Resource: Indigent Defense in the United States: An Analysis of State Frameworks for Ensuring the Effective Assistance of Counsel

By: Susan L. Wynne

January 1, 2017

ProQuest Dissertations Publishing

Many indigent defense systems across the country lack sufficient resources and the appropriate administrative and operational infrastructure to ensure effective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment. In fact, the literature indicates that many of the country’s indigent defense systems have been in a state of crisis since the landmark case Gideon v. Wainwright solidified the right to counsel for poor criminal defendants over 50 years ago. Despite the well-documented nature of the problem and recommended solutions offered by the legal profession and panels of indigent defense experts, many indigent defense systems continue to struggle. Using a systematic qualitative analysis of court and government records, this dissertation sought to determine whether and to what extent each of the 50 states have adopted the recommendations from previous studies aimed at addressing the crisis. The dissertation further evaluated the relationship between the presence or absence of those components and legal challenges to the constitutionality of states’ indigent defense delivery systems. The data for the study were obtained from publicly available documents obtained using a combination of Internet searches, legal research, previous studies, and, where necessary, public information requests.