State’s public defender system bashed

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South Bend Tribune on 12/16/2016 by Virginia Black

Two civil rights attorneys call for Indiana’s Supreme Court to oversee the state’s public defender system on the heels of a report that questions the “Indiana model” of hit-and-miss legal representation of poor people.

Indianapolis lawyer Michael Sutherlin and Fort Wayne lawyer David Frank planned to file a “petition for rule-making” today. The petition asks the state high court to ensure that training, payment systems and oversight of the state’s 92 counties are not only consistent but also meet constitutional requirements.

The 200-page report by a national nonprofit, the Sixth Amendment Center, was prepared for the Indiana Indigent Defense Study Advisory Committee. That committee includes representatives from the General Assembly, the Supreme Court, the state bar and judges associations, the Indiana Public Defender Council and Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council.

“The Right to Counsel in Indiana” highlights a number of issues, with inadequate funding and oversight a common theme. Among the most serious findings:

 

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