Washington, DC (June 5, 2009) – NACDL President John Wesley Hall testified Thursday, June 4, before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security’s hearing on “the growing national crisis” in indigent representation. Hall’s statement and testimony on behalf of NACDL featured the recently released NACDL monograph, “Minor Crimes, Massive Waste: The Terrible Toll of America’s Broken Misdemeanor Courts.” The report was introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott in his opening remarks and was a focus of discussion among the committee members.
Hall’s written testimony focused on the rights of misdemeanor defendants, the severe collateral consequences of prosecution and conviction, the problem of overcriminalization and the need for alternative enforcement mechanisms, the pervasive lack of counsel where it is constitutionally required, the staggering caseloads of public defenders, the ethical implications of these problems, and the lack of performance standards, supervision and training for indigent defenders.
“Criminal justice reform efforts often have noted that extensive problems exist in misdemeanor courts but rarely have focused exclusively on these courts,” Hall explained, adding that NACDL’s 18-month study concluded that “misdemeanor courts across the country are incapable of providing accused individuals with the due process guaranteed them by the Constitution.”
The full text of NACDL’s misdemeanor report and related materials are available at: http://www.nacdl.org/misdemeanor.
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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.