San Francisco Chronicle op-ed: In the famous 1963 case of Gideon vs. Wainwright, the Supreme Court unanimously held that the state must provide lawyers for those charged with serious crimes who cannot afford them. The court recognized that “lawyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries” and that a fair trial was impossible without counsel for the defense.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi recently announced that his office will be compelled to refuse appointments in some major felony cases under a 25 percent budget cut proposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom and the Board of Supervisors. Critics suggest that Adachi is being unreasonable and that he is not a “team player.” Adachi’s stand is principled, correct and cost effective for San Francisco County.
Budget cuts and soaring caseloads are pushing teetering public defender’s offices closer to the brink of collapse. However, after years of being under-resourced and overwhelmed, public defenders are finally pushing back.
In the landmark 1963 case Gideon v. Wainwright, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a poor person accused of a crime is entitled to competent and effective legal representation. However, the current economic crisis, rising recession-related crime, and soaring unemployment rates threaten to erode this basic right, which is guaranteed by the U.S. and California constitutions.
San Francisco, CA – The City’s refusal to provide cost-effective legal representation to indigent criminal defendants will force the Public Defender’s Office to turn away select homicide and other serious cases, as of February 1, 2009. The Public Defender’s action comes in response to the denial of City funding for two vacant paralegal positions. The [...]