Discussion on indigent defense today in Tucson
Bad lawyering has contributed to several of the wrongful convictions overturned by DNA testing. Public defenders are often overburdened and underfunded, rendering them unable to provide the defense and investigation needed in a serious criminal trial. The Innocence Project has called for improvements in the nation’s indigent defense systems to prevent future wrongful convictions, but few states have taken action. Stephen Bright, the director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, will address the issue of indigent defense this afternoon at a speech in Tucson, Arizona.
"There is a failure in jurisdictions all over the country to provide adequate lawyers to people accused of crimes," said Stephen B. Bright, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights. "It's particularly troubling in death penalty cases with lawyers who don't have the competence, the expertise, the resources or the investigative assistance needed to try death penalty cases," Bright said.
Jimmy Ray Bromgard, who served more than 14 years in a Montana prison before DNA testing proved him innocent, is an example of a defendant who was wrongfully convicted partly because of inadequate defense representation. His attorney did no investigation, hired no expert to debunk the state's forensic expert, filed no motions to suppress the identification of a young girl who was, according to her testimony, at best only 65% certain, gave no opening statement, did not prepare a closing statement, and failed to file an appeal after Bromgard's conviction.
Read more about his case here
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