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sixthamendment
11 - 20 of 29
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An Unfunded Mandate from Above

In Gideon, the U.S. Supreme Court observed that “lawyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries.” But fifty years later, we still fall short of the full promise of the Sixth Amendment, and the struggle is real. National standards recommend that public defenders handle no more than 150 felony cases, 400 misdemeanor cases, or 200 juvenile cases per Read More

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The Importance of Public Defense

Many people observed National Public Defense Day on March 18. Yes, there’s a day on the calendar for everything, but this one’s important. It honors the day in 1963 that the Supreme Court decided Gideon v. Wainwright: the case of a poor defendant who believed the Constitution promised him an effective lawyer if he was accused of a crime. The man had just Read More

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A Postscript to Last Week’s Open Letter

Following up on last week’s post, readers should understand the timeline of events that brought the misconduct to light. Here are the highlights. In January 2013, a defendant in a murder case filed a motion to get some important information from the prosecution. The trial court found good cause for the motion and granted it, but the district attorney’s office Read More

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An Open Letter to the District Attorney of Orange County

Mr. Rackauckas: Just what is going on in your office, sir? I’m not talking about the fight that broke out in a county courthouse three weeks ago between one of your investigators and a defense attorney. Never mind that if a defense attorney did this to a cop, he’d be arrested so fast his head would spin. (Full Read More

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Do You Have a Good Criminal Defense Attorney?

If you don’t know, here’s some food for thought from the Huffington Post. The author is a former public defender who writes about the realities of our justice system, and he makes five good points that are worth considering in evaluating your lawyer. I’ve paraphrased them below, but you can read his words for yourself right here. Good lawyers advocate zealously for you. Read More

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New California Criminal Laws: Part Deux

To conclude our two-part series on the state’s new criminal laws, here are three more important ones that went into effect on January 1, 2016. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys must account for the immigration consequences of a plea deal. This is Assembly Bill 1343. It amended the Penal Code to reflect that defense lawyers must advise noncitizens accurately about Read More

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One Way to the Gallows

To appreciate due process, consider this story of a man named George Spencer who was accused—of all things—of impregnating a pig. His story takes place in 1642 in puritan New England, and it’s excerpted from the book, The Case of the Piglet’s Paternity: Trials from New Haven Colony, 1639-1663, by Jon C. Blue, a Superior Court judge Read More

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Why Innocent People Plead Guilty

Every now and then, people come along who not only say something meaningful about our world but propose something specific to improve it, and who possess the pedigree and gravitas to actually move the needle. We do well to listen to them. So registers this essay by Jed Rakoff, a federal judge from the Southern District of New Read More

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Big Brothers Are a Big Problem

As we pine for a digital Magna Carta or a digital Bill of Rights, the scale of the problem is daunting. Part of the problem lies at home. It rears its head when the National Security Agency searches domestic calls, emails, and data that are “incidental” to its surveillance of foreign-intelligence targets but takes liberties in doing so. Or Read More

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Leading Legal Minds Call for a Digital Bill of Rights

Federal inmates are not the only ones fighting for the right to confide in a lawyer. Earlier this month, at the American Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in Boston, several leaders of national and international bar associations called for stronger coordination among lawyers to combat a growing sense of governmental surveillance attacks on the attorney-client privilege. The leaders, whose panel Read More

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