Now certainly it’s true with regards to the case of Gideon versus Wainwright. We had high hopes in 1963 that Gideon would solve the problem of lack of representation of defendants and all kinds of criminal cases but the constitution project of Washington DC reports in 2009 that the promise of Gideon is not even close to being fulfilled. Case lawyers and public defendants are excessive.
The constitution project found for example that in Missouri, the public defendants found handling near 400 felony cases in a year In Miami Dade county public defendants had annual case laws of nearly 500 or over 2000 misdemeanors per defender. In the summer of 2012 last year, the supreme court of Missouri ruled that trial judge could not appoint the public defender to take a case when the case capacity give that defender office, already had been exceeded.
A similar case with same result recently handled just a couple of weeks ago by the Florida Supreme Court. But this is only a partial solution. Those 2 cases are only a partial solution to problem that confronts us. Reducing case laws will certainly allowed defenders to spend more on other cases but we still will not have enough lawyers to provide every defendant with effective representation. We need more funding for criminal offends and we need more lawyers to handle cases for indigent defendants. Today a public defendant may only have enough time to spend 5 to 10 minutes interviewing a client before allowing the defendant to plead guilty, even though a paid lawyer, retained lawyer, might spend hours on the case before the entry of a plea.
We need more defendants so that they will be able to spend the amount of time necessary, To ensure that a plea of guilty will not be made unless it’s the best alternative for the, for the client. There are more steps at the Courts legislators could take if we are really serious about the need for fairness and criminal justice system.
A friend said we could change the law with respect to the right to counsel and misdemeanor cases. Today an indigent charged with the misdemeanors tiles the appoint with council only if that defendant is actually incarcerated following conviction. Under Argisis versus Hamlin… if the prosecutor advises the judge and they all said if he does not want to go for jail time, the indigent defendant will not get counsel. The defender probably will be relieved that he isn’t going to jail and may plead guilty without a lawyer just to get the case over with.
But suppose he’s not a citizen, if so he may be later deported back because, from the United States because of that conviction or defendant convicted of misdemeanor will later have difficulty being accepted into the military if he tries to enlist, because of the conviction. Or he may be turned down for graduates school or medical school or law school because of that conviction. If the indigent is charged with misdemeanor the principles of Gideon versus Wainwright should apply he should have counsel appointed for him, period.
Another suggested change is to make counsel available to indigent prison inmates in post-conviction habeas corpus and other types of post-conviction cases including appeals from denials of post-conviction petitions. The law concerning post-conviction remedy is extremely complex. An untrained person cannot be expected to be able to prepare a post-conviction motion or petition and represent himself in such a proceeding. Earlier this year I’ve received a letter from an inmate in New York who had a Florida sentence to serve on when he completed the New York sentence, He said he had contacted 245 lawyers and law schools for help and no one would provide assistance.