The Constitution Project’s National Right to Counsel Committee released its much-anticipated report, Justice Denied: America’s Continuing Neglect of our Constitutional Right to Counsel, today at an event held at Arnold & Porter LLP. The report details the endemic and systemic failures of the indigent defense system and recommends twenty-two specific and urgently needed reforms to fix them. The full report and other relevant materials are available online here.
After opening remarks from Constitution Project President Virginia E. Sloan, the full crowd heard remarks from the Committee’s three co-chairs detailing how the promise set forth in Gideon v. Wainwright remains unfulfilled, Timothy K. Lewis, a former state and federal prosecutor and federal judge, Rhoda Billings, former North Carolina trial judge and then Chief Justice for the North Carolina Supreme Court; and Robert M. A. Johnson, the District Attorney for Anoka County, Minnesota, and former president of the National District Attorneys Association. Committee members Abe Krash, a member of team representing Clarence Earl Gideon in 1963, and Alan Crotzer, an exonoree who spent over 24 years in prison before being released based on DNA evidence, shared their diverse experiences and commonly held beliefs. Reporter Norm Lefstein, Professor at Indiana University School of Law, and Robert L. Spangenberg, founder of the Spangenberg Project at George Mason University, provided an overview of the comprehensive 213 page report, detailing research on the pressing indigent crisis and the path to reform.