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A Double Win for Indigent Defense (Inside NACDL)
By Norman L. Reimer
Inside NACDL columns.
The New York and Michigan High Courts Clear a Path for Systemic Reform Litigation
Victories in the struggle to reform deficient indigent defense systems are hard to achieve. There is so much resistance to allocating resources for a constituency with little clout that indigent defense is the last thing funded in good times, and the first thing cut in bad times. Persistent neglect by state executive and legislative branches inevitably impels reformers to pursue litigation as a strategy of last resort. Yet litigation is a costly and time-consuming option, and the judicial branch is often loath to intrude when the ultimate remedy requires the expenditure of public funds — a quintessential responsibility of the political branches. Litigation is even more daunting because claims for prospective relief are frequently challenged on the ground that they are premature until an accused has already been convicted, and that the only appropriate avenue for relief is a direct appeal or a post-convicti
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