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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-22-04 02:22 PM
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Panel says some poor defendants don't receive adequate legal representatio
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Panel says some poor defendants don't receive adequate legal representation

By Kata Kertesz
10:27 a.m. June 22, 2004

WASHINGTON More than 40 years after a Supreme Court ruling that guaranteed lawyers for defendants who can't afford them, some people are still without adequate legal representation in criminal cases, according to a new committee formed to address the problem.

The National Committee on the Right to Counsel, chaired by former Vice President Walter Mondale, will analyze the procedures states and localities use to provide attorneys to defendants who can't afford them and will recommend ways to make sure all defendants receive adequate legal assistance.

Rhoda Billings, committee co-chair and former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, said the current system does not ensure that the right is equally guaranteed for all Americans.

"In some instances across the country, courts have upheld convictions even when the defendants were represented by lawyers who slept through portions of the trial or were drunk or under the influence of drugs," Billings said in a statement Tuesday announcing the committee's formation.
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