R2C National Campaign: June 2016 Newsletter


New York Legislation

On June 17, 2016, the New York Assembly passed a bill requiring full state responsibility for funding the right to counsel for those people who cannot afford an attorney. The Senate had unanimously passed a very similar bill the previous night. The legislation now moves to Governor Cuomo's desk.
You can learn more about the New York right to counsel efforts here (via the Sixth Amendment Center).

Consortium Members Update

Quarterly Webinar

If you missed the quarterly webinar from this month, you can see a recording of all of the presentations here! (Presentations by: David Carroll of the Sixth Amendment Center about recent legislation; Nancy Belden and John Russonello of Belden Russonello Strategists about R2C market research; Ivan Dominguez of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers about R2C social media.)

National Association of Court Managers (NACM):

Annual Conference, July 10-14, 2016, Pittsburgh, PA

July 11 @ 10:15 am – 11:30 am. Participatory Defense: Family and Community Involvement in the Courts

This panel will highlight a model of community engagement in the courts called “participatory defense” — a community organizing methodology for families who have loved one facing charges to impact the outcome of the case and change the landscape of power in the courts. The Silicon Valley De-Bug’s Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project has been using the practice in the Bay Area for seven years now, and is now training community organizations and public defender offices nationally on how to embed the practice in their counties. The power of participatory defense, the impact on individual cases, reform campaigns that have launched from the approach, and examples of tools, such as social biography videos and The First 24, will be discussed.
Panelist: Raj Jayadev, Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project

Jul 11 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm. The Role of Court Managers in Ensuring the Right to Counsel

Looking at the current state of public defense nationwide, the session will dig deeper into the role court administrators can play in ensuring the Sixth Amendment right to counsel is meaningfully carried out. The first half of the session will be devoted to a discussion by a panel of experts on court administrators’ role in ensuring quality public defense. The panelists’ discussion will be followed by a facilitated discussion on attendees’ own experiences and challenges as well as concrete actions they can take to address the concerns raised regarding public defense.

Moderator: Preeti P. Menon, Interim Director & Project Director, Right to Counsel Initiative, American University

Panelists: Geoffrey T. Burkhart, Attorney & Project Director, American Bar Association
Marea L. Beeman, Director, Research Initiatives, Defender Legal Services, National Legal Aid and Defenders Association
Nate Jensen, Director of Court Administration, Montgomery County, TX

National Association of Counties (NACo):

Annual Conference, July 22-25, 2016, Long Beach, CA
July 25th 8:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. Stepping Up: Key Considerations for Reducing Mental Illness in Jails.

Two challenges that people with mental illnesses face before, after and during their involvement with the justice system is right to counsel and access to housing. Both of these factors can have a significant impact on whether a person is arrested, how long he or she remains in jail, and his or her success after release. During this roundtable, national experts and county practitioners will discuss challenges and opportunities and outline how changing the provision of these services can help to reduce jail populations, save money and ensure safety.

Panelists: Colette Tvedt, Public Defense Training and Reform Director, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; Mr. Patrick Fleming, NACo Senior Fellow.

The Constitution Project:

Federal Legislative Update
The Constitution Project has been following federal legislation pertaining to the right to counsel and has shared the following update.

Members of Congress have introduced several pieces of legislation to address the right to counsel crisis facing states and localities across the country. While the prospects for adoption of most of these bills are quite slim (certainly, at least, before Election Day), we are pleased to see increased interest in issues concerning indigent defense in an effort to ensure that concerns with the Sixth Amendment are part of the discourse related to any criminal justice reform effort. Names accompanying each bill are sponsoring Members of Congress; additional co-sponsors may have joined (check hyperlink).

In addition, webcast and witness statements from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s May 12, 2015 hearing on the lack of counsel in misdemeanor courts are available here.

S. 2577/H.R. 4602, Justice For All Reauthorization Act (Cornyn, R-TX; Leahy, D-TX). JFAA contains several provisions related to victim services and innocence protection. It also reinstates a previous requirement of the Byrne/JAG grant program that states develop, and update annually, a strategic plan detailing how grants received under the program will be used to improve the administration of the criminal justice system (including defenders in such a plan); requires the Attorney General to provide technical assistance to states and local governments requesting support to meet their Sixth Amendment obligations (and authorizes $5M funding for this purpose); provides access to and funding for post-conviction DNA testing; and authorizes funding for the Capital Litigation Fund. Introduced on 2/24/2016; unanimously passed by the Senate on 6/16/2016 and presently before the House for consideration.

H.R. 5124, Equal Justice Under Law Act (Maloney, D-NY). Confers on federal courts the jurisdiction to provide declaratory and injunctive relief against systemic violations of the Sixth Amendment. Introduced on 4/29/16. No further action taken.

H.R. 5449, Independent and Effective Federal Defenders Act (Deutch, D-FL). Creates a commission within the Executive Branch to provide adequate representation to indigent defendants in federal criminal cases. Introduced on 6/10/2016. No further action.

H.R. 4606, Status of the 6th Amendment Act (Deutch, D-FL). Requires all states in receipt of federal criminal justice grant funding to annually submit a report to the DoJ cataloguing the timing of appointment, type of counsel assigned, and case outcomes for all criminal offenses and juvenile delinquency proceedings in the previous year. Introduced Feb. 24, 2016. No further action taken.

H.R. 2063, National Center for the Right to Counsel Act (Deutch, D-FL). Establishes a national center to provide financial and substantive support to improve the delivery of the right to counsel to indigent defendants. Introduced 4/28/2015. No further action taken.

In The News

On the Defensive, by Dylan Walsh, The Atlantic (June 2, 2016)

Court Fines And Fees Almost Delay Homecoming For Wrongly Convicted Michigan Man, by Joseph Shapiro, NPR (June 14, 2016)

Federally fund public defenders, by Will Isenberg and Tom Emswiler, The Boston Globe (June 19, 2016)

ACLU lawsuit: Utah public defender system unconstitutional, by Michelle L. Price, Associated Press (June 21, 2016)

A Big Victory for Public Defense in New York, by The Editorial Board, The New York Times (June 24, 2016)

New Consortium Members

This month we welcome JustLeadership USA to the consortium!

Call for Blogs and Shareable Content

If you are interested in blogging for R2C or have other published pieces that the Campaign should know about, please contact Ivan Dominguez (idominguez@nacdl.org) or Ezra Dunkle-Polier (edunkle-polier@nacdl.org).