The Catholic University of America

CUA Law Professor Cara H. Drinan has published a new blog post, A Congressional Fix to the Indigent Defense Crisis. See below. 

. . .
In 1963, the United States Supreme Court held in Gideon v. Wainwright that poor criminal defendants are entitled to legal representation at the state’s expense. The Supreme Court recognized that “lawyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries,” and that “the right of one charged with crime to counsel may not be deemed fundamental and essential to fair trials in some countries, but it is in ours.”

Unfortunately, the vision of the Gideon decision has never been realized at the state level, and an indigent person’s right to counsel remains illusory. Across the board, for more than five decades now, states have failed to adequately fund public defense systems. Chronic under-funding leads to excessive caseloads, inadequate training and supervision, and what some have called the “McJustice“ process of extracting guilty pleas from criminal defendants. We may see criminal trials on television shows, but the reality is that few defendants ever go to trial. “Ninety-seven percent of federal convictions and ninety-four percent of state convictions are the results of guilty pleas.”
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To view the complete blog post, click here

Cara Drinan  

Professor Cara H. Drinan's
Areas of Expertise

Access to counsel

Indigent defense

Structural litigation


Death Penalty

For additional information about our professors' areas of speciality, see the Catholic University Experts page.