You Can't Build on Shaky Ground: Laying the Foundation for Indigent Defense Reform through Values-Based Recruitment, Training, and Mentoring
Harvard Law and Policy Review, Forthcoming
24 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2009
Date Written: February, 25 2009
Across the country, indigent defense systems fail to provide poor criminal defendants with competent representation. While reformers have focused on structural and funding problems, they have largely overlooked the central role of a culture that encourages lawyers to ignore values fundamental to our system of criminal justice. Where lawyers do not practice in accordance with these values, they fail to provide constitutionally adequate representation. This article argues that, while structural and financial considerations are critical to efforts to ensure constitutional standards are met, they cannot transform a value-system that accepts sub-standard representation. Reformers must devise a strategy to change this value-system. The article further argues that an effective transformation strategy will require grooming a new generation of lawyers who will spearhead efforts to usher in a new system of values. It suggests a three-prong approach to accomplishing this objective: value-based recruitment, values-based training, and values-based mentoring. Finally the article illustrates how this theory can be put into practice by examining a model, based on this approach, implemented in the South.
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