CUA Law Professor Cara H. Drinan's law review article, "The National Right to Counsel Act: A Congressional Solution to the Nation's Indigent Defense Crisis," inspired the pending federal Equal Justice Under Law Act of 2016. Professor Drinan also consulted on the legislation this past year. The bill is designed to address the chronic failures of state indigent defense systems.
Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney introduced the Equal Justice Under Law Act in the House on April 29, 2016, and on July 7, 2016, Senator Cory Booker introduced a similar version in the Senate. Maloney and Booker have announced the beginning of a new bicameral effort to fix America’s strained public defender system. The Equal Justice Under Law Act of 2016 would:
· Create a federal cause of action that allows indigent criminal defendants to file a lawsuit against states and political subdivisions for systemic failures to provide effective assistance of counsel in felony cases;
· Permit litigants to file a class action lawsuit against states and localities for systemic failures to provide effective assistance of counsel in felony cases; and
· In the Senate version, it would require states to consult with representatives from the public defender community prior to distributing Byrne JAG funds.
The Equal Justice Under Law Act of 2016 is supported by the Innocence Project, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the NAACP.
Click here to access Professor Drinan's law review article.
Click here to access the full press release.
Professor Cara H. Drinan's
Areas of Expertise
Access to counsel
For additional information about our professors' areas of speciality, see the Catholic University Experts page.