Reclaiming Our Rightful Place: Reviving the Hero Image of the Public Defender
12 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2014 Last revised: 16 Jul 2014
Date Written: July 14, 2014
This keynote address at the Iowa Law Review symposium celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright examines the right to counsel over the past century and how the public defender has gone from being viewed as the engine necessary to ensure equal justice to a role worthy of little respect. It suggests that the decline in value placed on the role of the public defender accompanied the dehumanization of those viewed as outside the law. As society demonized those accused of crime, it lost respect for advocates for the accused. The result has been a criminal justice system that has become accustomed to processing people rather than ensuring the representation demanded by the Sixth Amendment. It concludes that public defenders must lead the charge to reinject humanity into the criminal justice system and awaken society to the need to demand that we live up to the ideals set forth in the Gideon decision.
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