June 2019
Last week, in partnership with the National Association for Court Management and supported by the State Justice Institute , the Justice Programs Office , Right to Counsel team held a meeting with judges and court administrators on how to enhance caseflow management to ensure effective assistance of counsel. The level of engagement and discussion that took place in the meeting both impressed and encouraged us all. Right to Counsel National Campaign Director, Genevieve Citrin Ray, wrote a blog on her takeaways. Make sure to give it a read .

Over the next few months, our JPO team will create a white paper, based on the meeting, that lays out a framework for all courts to use to enhance caseflow management by ensuring effective assistance of counsel. We look forward to helping courts implement and build on the recommendations that will be included. Stay tuned !
Last month, Sen. Kamala Harris unveiled a plan to financially assist public defenders and prevent burnout: the Ensuring Quality Access to Legal Defense (EQUAL Defense) Act . Harris’ proposal would create a $250 million grant program within the Justice Department that would go toward establishing workload limits for full-time public defenders, making sure public defenders and prosecutors are paid similarly, and collecting more data about public defender workloads. (Levine, Politico , May 8, 2019)

An article released last week by The Appeal confronts jurisdictions across the country who perform video hearings instead of holding bail hearings in person, saying it leads to significant consequences. Because of low quality video and audio services, adequate representation seems to be decreasing. The Constitution’s Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to counsel in criminal prosecutions, but “what does it mean to have access to representation when you’re interacting with your lawyer over video, neither of you can really hear, see?” noted Rachel Foran, tactical organizing director at Community Justice Exchange . (Covert, The Appeal , Philadelphia, PA, June 5, 2019)
Fifty years after the landmark In Re Gault decision, when the US Supreme Court ruled that youth in juvenile court must receive due process protections, the Arizona judiciary invited the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) to assess the state’s implementation. In a report released in 2017, it stated that although “every state has a basic structure to provide attorneys for children, few states or territories adequately satisfy access to counsel for young people.” NJDC’s assessment of Arizona found this same thing to be true. The Arizona assessment report offers sixteen recommendations for reform. According to the article, Arizona’s juvenile court stakeholders plan to take on these reforms. (Scali, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange , June 5, 2019)

Last month, a federal judge ruled that a court case accusing the Department of Homeland Security of blocking migrants’ right to counsel at a facility in Louisiana and two facilities in Georgia can proceed as one case in Washington, D.C. The lawsuit , filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), claims that there are barriers to accessing attorneys at immigrant detention facilities, arguing “the totality of barriers to accessing and communicating with attorneys endured by detainees in these prisons deprives SPLC’s clients of their constitutional rights to access courts, to access counsel, and to obtain full and fair hearings, in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.” (Frazin, The Hill , May 14, 2019)
Legislative Updates
Since the last update in March, there has been a concerted push in many legislatures around the country to improve public defense. Eleven states and the federal government have sought to enact legislation. The two common themes in the legislation are:

  1. To create or alter state-level commissions to regulate and set standards for public defense (Indiana, Nevada, Oregon, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania); and,
  2. To strengthen representation for juveniles (Illinois, Maine, and Missouri).

For more information on the specific bills, check out the R2C blog here !
Member Updates & Resources
The National Juvenile Defender Center published a new report titled Juvenile Facilities Checklist for Defenders . The report provides defense attorneys who represent juveniles with the tools to advocate for the safety and well-being of their youth clients through learning about the facilities housing young people and whether the programming offered would support the developmental success of each individual child. Check out the report here !

The Sixth Amendment Center recently published a state evaluation on Maine. The report highlights two of the struggles that Maine faces as a result of using solely private attorneys for public defense: the difficulty of predicting and containing costs, and the difficulty of providing supervision to ensure effective representation. The report concludes that the realities of Maine’s public defense delivery system cannot guarantee effective representation in all cases as required by the constitution. The full report can be found here !
Upcoming Events
R2C Project Director Genevieve Citrin Ray will be heading to Las Vegas for the National Association for Court Management’s Annual Conference, Courts and Society: Creating Public Trust Through Engagement and Innovation from July 21-July 25.

On Monday July 22 from 3:00 to 4:00 PM PT , Genevieve will lead a session titled “Enhancing Caseflow Management to Ensure the Right to Counsel.” Courts can face competing interests while coordinating processes to ensure proceedings progress efficiently (e.g., supporting prompt resolution of cases and effective assistance of counsel that may cause delays). When interests are not addressed, tensions emerge. This session will explore how to reengineer court operations to ease this by enhancing caseflow management to ensure the right to counsel.

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