By: Harvard Law Review

January 1, 2016

“The Constitution of the United States guarantees adequate counsel for indigent defendants, and the Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that right is met,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch in September 2015. Yet this commitment is a relatively recent development for the Department of Justice (DOJ). In 2010, the DOJ launched the Access to Justice Initiative to help improve justice systems that serve people unable to afford lawyers. Since then, the DOJ has assumed an unprecedented role in addressing constitutionally inadequate state provisions of counsel. Critical to this active role has been the DOJ’s nascent strategy of filing statements of interest to support the right to counsel in state courts. Recently, the DOJ broke new ground in this effort, filing a statement in N.P. ex rel. Darden v. State, a class action lawsuit alleging systemic deprivation of juveniles’ right to counsel,5 to assert — for the first time — the United States’ interest in children’s due process right to counsel.

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Institution: Harvard Law Review

Related Cases:

N.P. v. Georgia