Overcoming Defiance of the Constitution: The Need for a Federal Role in Protecting the Right to Counsel in Georgia

American Constitution Society - Issue Brief, September, 2010

21 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2015

See all articles by Stephen B. Bright

Stephen B. Bright

Southern Center for Human Rights; Yale University - Law School

Lauren Sudeall

Georgia State University College of Law

Date Written: September 2010

Abstract

In their issue brief, Mr. Bright and Ms. Lucas discuss the problems that have existed in Georgia’s indigent defense system since Gideon was handed down. They contend that “[a]ll three branches of Georgia’s government have failed in their constitutional responsibility to ensure that poor people accused of crimes are effectively represented by competent lawyers.” They also argue that “[t]he federal government, which has made immense contributions to the prosecution of criminal cases in Georgia through grants to law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts, shares responsibility for the integrity of Georgia’s criminal justice system and the enforcement of the constitutional right to counsel.” Mr. Bright and Ms. Lucas describe Georgia’s public defender system and its failings, as well as the impact it is having on individual defendants. They then explore how “the federal government can play a role in remedying Georgia’s failure to enforce the right to counsel.” They conclude that “[u]nless the federal government enforces the right to counsel through measures requiring states like Georgia to fundamentally reconceive the way in which they provide indigent defense services, it is unlikely that those states will ever meet their constitutional responsibilities. The cost will be enormous in terms of wrongful convictions, uninformed sentencing, and a criminal justice system that lacks both credibility and legitimacy.”

Keywords: Right to Counsel, Sixth Amendment

Suggested Citation

Bright, Stephen B. and Sudeall, Lauren, Overcoming Defiance of the Constitution: The Need for a Federal Role in Protecting the Right to Counsel in Georgia (September 2010). American Constitution Society - Issue Brief, September, 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2614466

Stephen B. Bright

Southern Center for Human Rights ( email )

83 Poplar St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30303-2122
United States

Yale University - Law School ( email )

127 Wall St.
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.yale.edu/faculty/SBright.htm

Lauren Sudeall (Contact Author)

Georgia State University College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

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