News 09.11.07

Column: Georgia public defenders woefully underfunded

Two weeks ago, the director of the Georgia Capital Defender’s Office

resigned

, saying that the office could not adequately represent clients facing the death penalty with the budget provided by the state. And in a column in yesterday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ACLU death penalty stategist Christopher Hill argues that Georgia’s problems are not unique. Public defenders offices are underfunded nationwide, and those charged with capital cases are no better off.

Defendants are fighting for their lives during capital trials. The Constitution guarantees effective lawyers and a fair trial — that means lawyers with the time, resources and skill to properly represent them. It also means expert assistance, access to technology and investigators. All of this costs money. As things now stand, adequate resources are sorely lacking in many parts of the country. As a result, the death penalty is too often reserved not for the "worst" offenders, but for those defendants with the worst lawyers.


Read the full column here

. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 09/10/07)

Bad and overburdened lawyers are a major cause of wrongful conviction, in capital and non-capital cases. Hill mentions cases in which attorneys slept through trials, drank four martinis at lunch, and failed to offer evidence of innocence.

Read more about how bad lawyers and underfunded public defense offices can lead to wrongful convictions

.


More recent coverage of public defense shortages nationwide:

Seattle Op-Ed:

Mayor said to be ignoring court crisis




Wisconsin short of prosecutors, judges and public defenders while prison funding rises


New Mexico needs 45 more public defenders to meet caseload

Leave a reply

Thank you for visiting us. You can learn more about how we consider cases here. Please avoid sharing any personal information in the comments below and join us in making this a hate-speech free and safe space for everyone.

Thanks for your comment

Featured news

Press "Enter" or click on the arrow to show results.

Search