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The Champion

August 2003 , Page 61 

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The Georgia Indigent Defense Act of 2003

By Marion Chartoff

Read more Indigent Defense columns.

Forty years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, the State of Georgia finally took a significant step towards making Gideon’s promise of effective representation for the poor a reality with the passage of the Georgia Indigent Defense Act of 2003. Responding to voluminous evidence of the terrible quality of legal representation for poor people accused of crimes and the threat of more lawsuits challenging its failure to meet its constitutional obligations, the Georgia legislature overwhelmingly voted to create public defender offices in each of the state’s 49 judicial circuits. The passage of the act was the result of a concerted effort by members of the judiciary, the state bar, advocacy groups, and legislators from across the political spectrum.

For years, Georgia has failed to provide even minimally adequate representation to thousands of poor people, a disproportionate percentage of whom are African-Americans, accused of crime

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