The Right to Counsel in Criminal Cases: Still A National Crisis

41 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2020

See all articles by Paul Marcus

Paul Marcus

William & Mary Law School

Mary Sue Backus

University of Oklahoma College of Law

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

In 1963, Gideon v. Wainwright dramatically changed the landscape of criminal justice with its mandate that poor criminal defendants be entitled to legal representation funded by the government. As scholars and practitioners have noted repeatedly over more than fifty years, states have generally failed to provide the equal access Gideon promised. This Article revisits the questions raised by the authors over a decade ago when they asserted that a genuine national crisis exists regarding the right to counsel in criminal cases for poor people. Sadly, despite a few isolated instances where litigation has sparked some progress, the issues remain the same: persistent underfunding and crushing caseloads, and little support from the Supreme Court to remedy ineffective assistance claims. The authors conclude that our patchwork system of public defense for the poor remains disturbingly dysfunctional.

Keywords: Prosecute, Criminal, Defendant, Plea, Counsel, Reform, Indigent, Representation

Suggested Citation

Marcus, Paul and Backus, Mary Sue, The Right to Counsel in Criminal Cases: Still A National Crisis (2018). George Washington Law Review, Vol. 86, No. 1564, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3541332

Paul Marcus (Contact Author)

William & Mary Law School ( email )

South Henry Street
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States
757-221-3900 (Phone)
757-221-3261 (Fax)

Mary Sue Backus

University of Oklahoma College of Law ( email )

300 Timberdell Road
Norman, OK 73019
United States
4053254948 (Phone)

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