Gideon at 50

Gideon at 50

Gideon’s Trumpet called for effective assistance of counsel for all charged with a crime. Literature regarding lawyers’ professional responsibility often begins with lilting exhortations to zeal, loyalty, and confidentiality, but we see too little reference to competence. Yet without it, all the good will and loyalty in the world will be of little use to the client and to the social goal of justice for all. Competence, however, requires skill and resources. Unfortunately few states have followed the New Jersey model of a statewide, state-funded public defender.  Pennsylvania and New York, two notable failures to heed the call, rely on county funding.  I discuss the issues in the above post which first appeared in the Stein Center’s December 2012 newsletter. – GWC

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