At the most recent meeting of the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Arizona, attorney Larry Hammond rose to shed light on a vital issue: legal representation for those who cannot afford it.
He is the chair of the Indigent Defense Task Force, and on October 25, he asked the board to form a State Indigent Defense Commission. It would be charged with examining that intractable problem and suggesting solutions.
How intractable? Well, as Larry noted, we are in the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright and we’re still wrestling with it.
In fact, I wonder how much has changed since the issuance of noteworthy reports like “Gideon’s Broken Promise: America’s Continuing Quest for Equal Justice” (2003) and “Gideon Undone: The Crisis in Indigent Defense Funding” (1982)?
(All of that, and more, are available on an ABA page dedicated to studies of the indigent defense system in the United States.)
Here is one of the things Larry said to the Governors in his appeal to create a commission:
“It is not just the duty of defense lawyers and victim advocates. We all must believe that competent, adequately funded representation is a part of all of our jobs.”
Do you agree?
I’ve invited Larry to write something for Arizona Attorney Magazine on the topic, both the crisis and the recommended response. I’ll keep you informed.Follow @azatty