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November 09, 2012

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Patrick S. O'Donnell

While this is an intriguing and important discussion, one can't help but point out that the constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel to indigent defendants remains unmet, in the words of Stephen Bright, "No constitutional right is celebrated so much in the abstract and observed so little in reality as the right to counsel." As Monroe Freedman, among others, has noted again and again, paltry compensation has failed to attract competent lawyers and court-appointed lawyers are frequently incompetent, more often than not valued by judges for their ability to

"move the courts's calendars quickly by entering hasty guilty pleas in virtually all cases. In those few cases the accused insists on his right to trial by jury, the trials typically move rapidly because the court-appointed lawyers generally file no motions, conduct no investigations, and do little to impede the speedy disposal of the case from charge, to guilty verdict, to imprisonment." (the inimitable Monroe Freedman)

I have several posts at Religious Left Law (cross-posted at Ratio Juris) that touch on this and related topics:

http://www.religiousleftlaw.com/2012/08/the-war-on-the-indigent-with-the-sword-shield-of-neoliberal-commodification.html

http://www.religiousleftlaw.com/2012/05/when-innocent-clients-plead-guilty.html

http://www.religiousleftlaw.com/2012/05/wrongful-convictions.html

http://www.religiousleftlaw.com/2011/08/american-violet-a-criminal-justice-story.html

Patrick S. O'Donnell

This is a promising development that should be noted as well: http://www.acslaw.org/acsblog/supreme-court-extends-right-to-effective-counsel-to-plea-bargains

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