Anderson v. State of Louisiana

04-05405 (La. 14th J.D)

An NACDL-supported class action filed by pro bono counsel at Baker Botts LLP and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP, the suit alleged that deficiencies in the Calcasieu Parish public defense system were so extreme that defendants were being denied their right to counsel as guaranteed by the U.S. and Louisiana Constitutions. The lawsuit alleged that due to substantial under-funding, public defender clients did not have their cases properly investigated, had infrequent communication with their attorneys, and experienced extraordinary delays in the processing of their cases.


The result was that defendants, innocent until proven guilty, spent months and even years in jail before they were ever given their day in court, with no meaningful legal representation to ensure their rights were upheld.  The lawsuit was stayed following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the Louisiana Legislature passed the Louisiana Public Defense Act funding a statewide system of indigent defense. The lawsuit was revived, however, contending that the state system still does not provide funding sufficient and that denials of the right to counsel persist in Calcasieu Parish.

Defending the Indigent in Southwest Louisiana by Michael M. Kurth, PhD and Daryl V. Burckel, DBA & CPA (July 2003)

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