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Celebrating Heroes in the Struggle to Reform Indigent Defense (Inside NACDL)
By Norman L. Reimer
Inside NACDL columns.
In 2004, the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid
& Indigent Defendants, commemorating the 40th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, released
its report on the state of indigent defense. The exhaustive study
reached “the inescapable conclusion that 40 years after the Gideon decision, the promise of equal justice for the poor remains unfulfilled in this country.”1
The struggle to provide fully qualified attorneys with manageable
caseloads and adequate support resources continues as a largely
state-by-state, sometimes county-by-county battle, waged day in and day
out, year in and year out, by a small cadre of dedicated professionals.
This hearty band of stalwarts, rarely armed with little more than the
force of reason and the torch of justice, seeks access to the precious
funding necessary to sustain a credible public defense infrastructure.
They compete against every conceivable interest group that stakes its
own weighty claims on the public
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