New ABA Report on the Problem of Indigent Defense Co-authored by Dean Emeritus
Norman Lefstein, Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus, recently co-authored a recent American Bar Association (ABA) report on indigent defense. The February 2005 report is entitled Gideon's Broken Promise: America's Continuing Quest for Equal Justice and was prepared by the ABA's Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID). Prof. Lefstein is not only a member of SCLAID, but is also the chair of the Indigent Defense Advisory Group.
Lefstein says he is pleased that the issue of adequate funding for indigent defense is receiving attention both locally and nation-wide. He cites articles and editorials that mention the ABA report such asThe Seattle Times and The Indianapolis Star as evidence that there is a movement afoot to change the current system. He hopes this report will contribute to the movement. "This ABA report is the first broad national summary of the problems in indigent defense that been published in more than 20 years,” Lefstein says. “As the report emphasizes, the United States needs to do far better in providing adequate legal services for the accused not simply because the Constitution requires it, but due to the constant risk of innocent persons being convicted when legal representation is deficient. For many years, the ABA has been a national leader in the field of indigent defense, and it will continue to seek additional funding and various structural reforms throughout the country in order to enhance the quality of defense representation.”
Lefstein has studied this problem for years and has published widely on the topic, including a recent study on indigent defense systems in England entitled, “In Search of Gideon’s Promise: Lessons from England and the Need for Federal Help” (55 Hastings Law Journal, 835, 2004); and Federal Death Penalty Cases: Recommendations Concerning the Cost and Quality of Defense Representation, Report of the Subcommittee on Federal Death Penalty Cases of the Committee on Defense Services of the Judicial Conference of the United States (contributing author and editor) (1998). More on Dean Emeritus Lefstein.