The Champion

December 2009 , Page 7 

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Indigent Defense 2010: Challenge and Opportunity (Inside NACDL)

By Norman L. Reimer

Read more Inside NACDL columns.

The 2009 calendar year was filled with unprecedented economic challenge. Although the stock market recovered from the free fall of last winter, and the experts report that the recession has technically ended, American employment and consumer spending are still lagging. Worse, as revenue collection remains weak, state budgets are under intense pressure.1 This has a direct consequence for the rights of the accused. Indigent defense funding, which is sparse in the best of times, is always among the first state expenditures frozen or cut when times are hard. And so, predictably, 2009 was a difficult year for defense services. But paradoxically, several developments this year portend hope that 2010 may be a breakthrough year for indigent defense reform.

Congress and DOJ

This year, Congress recognized the national scope of the crisis in indigent defense representation when it held unprecedented hearings on the growing national crisis. NACDL was among the groups that submitted a briefing paper

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