Defenders Seek Justice for the Poor
There is a crisis in our courts that threatens a sacred tenet of our judicial system: the right to counsel. A number of reports by defense and constitutional advocacy groups have concluded that the public defender system needs better funding and better standards, or there will be no equal justice…The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against some counties to force a change in the system. The lawsuit is filled with horror stories: people stuck in jail for months, unable to reach their lawyers; seeing them only in the courtroom; and being pressured to plead guilty. These cases cost people their jobs, their homes and their freedom.