Shalandra Elam Project 1

Counsel For Indigent 1 COUNSEL FOR INDIGENT Shalandra Elam Introduction to Courts Project 1: Exploring Our Courts Tamara Mischel, Ph.D. 07/23/2021
Counsel For Indigent 2 Introduction The Sixth Amendment to the US constitution guarantees the right to counsel in defense to all the accused persons. The Supreme Court interpreted Sixth Amendment to require every state to offer counsel to the accused persons before they are sentenced to prison or jail whenever the person does not afford to hire an attorney. Different states have responded to the Supreme Court landmark decision by developing some systems that facilitate the provision of indigent services. In recent years, following the Gideon decision, demand for indigent defense services has steadily grown. However, the last few years have seen an increased need for state-funded counsel (Griffin, 2017). The key factors leading to an increase in the need for indigent defense are the increased war on crime and the increase in drug offenses. The cost of offering indigent defense services has escalated in recent years. Various localities and states have developed public defender programs while others still rely on the private bar. The right to counsel has tremendously expanded due to various legislations, state constitutional provisions, and case laws. The expansion at the state level has led to system diversity across the USA. Cost is the main factor that helps determine the type of indigent defense system that a county or state adopts. The response to increased costs, litigations challenging various programs, and increased delays and caseloads have forced many states to refine their indigent defense programs in recent years. There are various current methods of providing counsel to indigent defendants (Vecseri, 2018). The given methods include the public defender program, assigned counsel, and the contract. Assigned Counsel Program
Counsel For Indigent 3 It entails assigning indigent criminal cases to some private attorneys on an ad hoc or systematic basis. Several private counsels including the less experienced lawyers utilize this opportunity to learn and gain trial and courtroom experience (Vecseri, 2018). The ad hoc assigned counsel program is among the most common and it involves the court making the appointment of the council. There is always no formal list or rotation method and no qualification criteria are used in the selection of the attorneys. Even though the ad hoc assigned counsel system remains the most commonly used defense system in the USA, specifically in less populated counties, it has some problems or shortcomings. Firstly, it may foster patronage and lack control over the qualification and experience level of appointed attorneys (Zeidman, 2017). It is common for several appointments to be done by new lawyers seeking experience and public exposure as compared to the highly competent ones that need a higher income. On the other hand, a coordinated assigned counsel program entails a program that has oversight or an administrative body. It requires the attorneys to meet some set qualifications before joining the program and providing greater supervision degree, training, and the entire support for the attorneys. Under the coordinated model, the attorneys are always assigned on a rotational basis based on the areas of specialization and cases complexity. A coordinated program is perceived superior to an ad hoc program (Vecseri, 2018). However, it has some shortcomings or problems that include being highly expensive hence may be costly to implement over the years. On the other hand, it has some advantages that include the provision of quality defense services based on qualification, specialization, and cases complexity. It also helps eliminate some patronage by the judges in the assignment process and avoiding appointing cases to unqualified lawyers. Contract Attorney Program
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