Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel

Report: Ending Injustice: Solving the Initial Appearance Crisis

Most Americans expect that if they are arrested, they will quickly appear before a judge, learn about the charges, and have an attorney assigned to defend them. The reality is vastly different. After arrest, a person can wait in jail for days, weeks, or even months before seeing a judge or meeting an attorney. This report chronicles the resulting initial appearance crisis and highlights its devastating consequences. More importantly, it provides policymakers and advocates with actionable recommendations.

Metzger, P., Hoeffel, J., Meeks, K., & Sidi, S., Ending Injustice: Solving the Initial Appearance Crisis, Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center (October 2021).

Article: The Court is in Recession: On the Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic for Indigent Defense Spending

How will the COVID-19 pandemic impact indigent defense budgets in the United States? During times of fiscal stress, redistributive policiespolicies that use taxpayer funds to support people who pay little or no taxes—are particularly susceptible to spending cuts. However, during the Great Recession of 2007-2009, Texas' indigent defense spending was generally stable, even in the hardest-hit counties.

Andrew Davies, Victoria Smiegocki, and Hannah Hall, The Court is in Recession: On the Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic for Indigent Defense Spending, __Ohio St. J. Crim.Law __ (2021) (forthcoming). 

Webinar: The Right to Counsel in Rural America

This conversation examined the challenges of providing indigent defense services in rural areas of the United States where lawyers are scarce and long distances separate courts, law offices, and jails. Deason Center researchers Dr. Andrew Davies and Dr. Victoria Smiegocki discussed their research on the topic with criminal defense attorneys working in rural areas.

One-Pager: Greening the Desert

Greening the Desert brings a criminal justice lens to the phenomenon of STAR legal desertsvast areas with few, if any, practicing attorneys. This one-pager highlights key strategies to green these criminal law deserts. The full Greening the Desert report offers detailed examples and case studies that describe successful implementation of strategies to recruit, train, and retain STAR justice practitioners. An accompanying webinar explores the national landscape and chronicles how two STAR criminal lawyers found their way to rural practice.

Greening the Desert (One-Pager), Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center (September 2020).

Webinar: Greening the Desert

This webinar explores strategies and initiatives to recruit, train, and retain STAR criminal justice practitioners. Lawyers describe their own journeys to STAR criminal practice and join researchers in a discussion of best practices for greening STAR legal deserts.

Report: Greening the Desert

Greening the Desert brings a criminal justice lens to the phenomenon of legal deserts in STAR communities—vast areas with few, if any, practicing attorneys. The report explores STAR criminal justice communities and describes strategies and initiatives to green these criminal law deserts. Using case studies, the report offers concrete examples of successful innovations. It also includes cautionary notes about risks that may arise with the implementation of strategies to recruit, train, and retain STAR practitioners. A companion  webinar explores the national landscape and chronicles how two STAR criminal lawyers found their way to rural practice.

 

 Metzger, P., Meeks, K., & Pishko, J., Greening the Desert: Strategies and Innovations to Recruit, Train, and Retain Criminal Law Practitioners for STAR Communities, Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center (Sept. 2020).

Article: Criminal (Dis)Appearance

Amid the national conversation about criminal legal reform, this article is the first scholarly work to address the initial appearance crisis. Criminal (Dis)Appearance describes an epidemic of detention-without-process and explores the legal landscape that produced it. The article describes the Supreme Court's commitment to a narrow Fourth Amendment jurisprudence and critiques the Court's rejection of early-stage criminal due process rights. The authors explain how substantive and procedural due process establish the right to a prompt and thorough initial appearance. 

Pamela R. Metzger and Janet C. Hoeffel, Criminal (Dis)Appearance, 88 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 392 (2020).

Webinar: Public Defense Reform from Crisis - Katrina to COVID-19

Crises expose flaws in our criminal legal systems. This program explores how Hurricane Katrina launched public defense reforms and asks whether the COVID-19 pandemic can spark similar changes.

Podcast: Dr. Andrew Davies on Rural Access to Counsel

On the Ipse Dixit podcast, Dr. Andrew Davies discusses his article, Gideon in the Desert: An Empirical Study of Providing Counsel to Criminal Defendants in Rural Places. Dr. Davies describes the challenge of providing counsel to rural defendants and identifies traits associated with rural counties that are more successful in meeting the Sixth Amendment's mandate.

Podcast: Pretrial Detention and Access to Courts: How to Safeguard Liberty and Justice During COVID-19

Listen to Deason Center Director Pamela Metzger discuss how COVID-19 exacerbates the initial appearance crisis.

Podcast: Detention Without Due Process

Listen to Pamela Metzger discuss why people disappear in jail for days, weeks, or months without seeing a judge or attorney with Brian L. Frye on Ipse Dixit.

Op-Ed: Rural Justice Systems Low on Pretrial Resources Leave Some to Languish, Die

Trequelle Vann-Marcouex was just 18 years old when he hanged himself, after being trapped in the Wood County, Wisconsin jail, with no attorney to defend him.

Just days earlier, Vann-Marcouex appeared in court for the first time after his arrest. A teenager standing alone in his baggy jumpsuit, Vann-Marcouex asked the judge for help. He faced robbery charges and more than 60 years in prison.

He thought he would get a public defender and a shot at the equal justice he’d heard about in high school civics class…

Pamela R. Metzger, Rural Justice Systems Low on Pretrial Resources Leave Some to Languish, Die, USA Today, Dec. 13, 2019. 

Op-Ed: Why Rural Americans Struggle for Equal Justice

Drive from Amarillo, one of the biggest cities in West Texas, to Armstrong County, Texas, and you will enter a different world. Armstrong County, with fewer than than 2,000 people, is largely agricultural and, like many rural counties, substantially poorer than its urban neighbor, with a small local budget to match.

And, a report from the Sixth Amendment Center issued this month points out that the very sparseness of Armstrong County means that people arrested for crimes tend to have a very different experience with the criminal justice system than their urban Amarillo neighbors

Pamela R. Metzger, Why Rural Americans Struggle for Equal Justice, Dallas Morning News, Nov. 24, 2019. 

Op-Ed: Equal Justice Depends on Properly Funding Public Defenders

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) recently introduced the Equal Defense Act, which would boost resources for public defenders across the country. It offers a $250 million grant program on top of case limits for public defenders.

A longtime prosecutor, Harris understands that a fully functional and adequately funded public defender’s office is essential to the pursuit of justice and for ensuring safer communities and families...

Pamela R. Metzger, Equal Justice Depends on Properly Funding Public Defenders, The Hill, May 22, 2019.