Washington, DC (July 17, 2006) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) has named Norman Lefstein as the association’s 2005 “Champion of Indigent Defense.” Lefstein is a Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus of the Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis. The award will be presented at the association’s awards luncheon at noon, July 28, at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel in Miami, Fla., as part of the NACDL 2006 Annual Meeting.
As Chair of the Indigent Defense Advisory Group of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants for the past six years, Lefstein has been responsible for overseeing the ABA’s efforts to improve indigent defense systems in various parts of the U.S. Most recently, Professor Lefstein oversaw the research and writing of a comprehensive report on the nationwide crisis in indigent defense. The report, released in February 2005, and entitled Gideon’s Broken Promise: America’s Continuing Quest for Equal Justice, concludes that thousands of people are processed through America’s courts every year either with no lawyer at all or with a lawyer who does not have the time or resources to provide effective representation.
“We are thrilled to recognize Professor Lefstein by selecting him to receive the 2005 Champion of Indigent Defense Award,” noted NACDL Indigent Defense Counsel Malia Brink. “We hope that this recognition encourages him in future endeavors, and encourages others to put pressure on states to fulfill their constitutional obligations to provide every person accused of a crime with an adequate defense.”
“For many decades, Professor Lefstein has championed the cause of poor persons accused of crimes, using every opportunity to fight for reform of the nation’s broken indigent defense systems,” noted Bill Whitehurst, Chair of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants, who nominated Lefstein.
Professor Lefstein’s other activities with the American Bar Association have included serving as Chair of the Section of Criminal Justice in 1986-1987; serving as Reporter for the Second Edition of ABA Criminal Justice Standards Relating to The Prosecution Function, The Defense Function, Providing Defenses Services, and Pleas of Guilty; and chairing the committee that drafted the third edition of those standards. Professor Lefstein also was involved with the adoption of the ABA Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System in 2002, as well as the ABA Guidelines on Contribution Fees for the Costs of Counsel in Criminal Cases in 2004.
In addition, Professor Lefstein works vigorously on indigent defense issues in his home state of Indiana. Since 1990, he has chaired the Indiana Public Defender Commission, and he is now in fourth consecutive term in this position.
The NACDL Champion of Indigent Defense Award recognizes an individual for outstanding efforts in making positive changes to a local, county, state, or national indigent defense system. Prior recipients of the award include Gary Parker (2003), for his efforts in reforming Georgia’s indigent defense system which resulted in the establishment of a statewide public defender system; and Patricia Purtiz (2004), for her efforts in ensuring quality representation for juveniles.
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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.