The Champion

August 2013 , Page 09 

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Indigent Defense in America: A Time of Despair, but a Shining Ray of Hope (Inside NACDL)

By Norman L. Reimer

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The 50th anniversary year of the Gideon decision has been nothing less than tumultuous. As I have noted previously in this column, for the first time since the adoption of the Criminal Justice Act in 1964, the federal indigent defense system has been under assault.1 That system has been a model for indigent reformers seeking to address the pervasive inadequacy of indigent defense services throughout the states. A robust, fully resourced hybrid program with outstanding federal defenders serving as the primary defenders, supplemented by outstanding panels of private attorneys, has delivered first-rate service to clients — zealous and effective advocacy that has fulfilled the promise of Gideon in federal jurisdictions. But now that model has been seriously degraded.

A Time of Despair for the Federal Indigent Defense System

Beginning with a budget cut that preceded the sequestration mandated by the Budget Control Act, and then the imposition of far more draconian budget cuts trig

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