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The Champion

July 2006 , Page 51 

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New Report Condemns Indigent Defense System In New Orleans

By Malia Brink

Read more Indigent Defense columns.

A new, independent study of the New Orleans indigent defense system has concluded that the system is in a shambles and requires not only immediate funding, but also complete organizational restructuring. It states, “New Orleans today lacks a true adversarial process. . . . For the vast majority of arrested individuals . . . , justice is simply unavailable.”

The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance commissioned the report, which was produced by the National Training and Technical Assistance Initiative Project at American University. A team of experts in indigent defense traveled to New Orleans, observed the workings of the court and indigent defense systems, interviewed judges, prosecutors, defenders, defendants and others, and reviewed all available data on caseloads, hearings and dispositions. The report was then authored by team leaders, including Nicholas L. Chiarkis, the Chief Public Defender of Wisconsin.

The report first states that “no effort should be made n

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