University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
Indigent defense systemic litigation
July 24, 2012
We've recently completed coding on our current collection of Indigent Defense cases. States, counties, and cities have all taken different approaches as to how to fulfill the the Supreme Court's command in Gideon v. Wainwright that it was the government's obligation to provide for the assistance of counsel to each felony defendant who cannot afford a lawyer.

Some states have formed state-wide public defender offices--including Colorado, Maryland, Kentucky, Georgia, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia. In other states, it is up to counties and cities to decide how to fulfill their indigent defense obligation, and those counties have formed their own public defender offices, like San Francisco, New Orleans, Cook County (Chicago), and Washtenaw County (Ann Arbor). Still other jurisdictions have contracted the work out to non-profits and private attorneys, to provide indigent defense on an hourly or per annum basis.

Our collection of cases relating to indigent defense is varied. Some cases challenge the caseloads of state public defenders. Other cases challenge the funding that the state provides for indigent defense. More recent cases directly challenge states as failing to meet their obligations by not having a state-wide public defender system.

The whole collection is here.