“Don’t I Need a Lawyer?” Report Release

  • March 18, 2015
  • 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Don’t I Need a Lawyer?

Pretrial Justice and the Right to Counsel
at First Judicial Bail Hearing

The Constitution Project National Right to Counsel Committee — a bipartisan, blue-ribbon panel of criminal justice system experts — is releasing a groundbreaking new report on guaranteeing the constitutional right to representation for indigent and low-income defendants at their initial bail or pretrial release hearing.

Click here to view photos from the release.


On March 18, 1963, in its landmark decision in Gideon v Wainwright, the United States Supreme Court declared that the Constitution requires the government to appoint a lawyer for any criminal defendant who can not otherwise afford one.  Yet today, many states and localities continue to conduct first appearance hearings without lawyers for the poorest people entering jurisdictions’ pretrial justice systems, to the great detriment of those accused of even minor offenses and at substantial cost to the taxpayer.  This new report offers important reforms to ensure that the right to counsel extends uniformly to the first judicial bail hearing.

The National Right to Counsel Committee comprises all facets of the criminal justice system, including current and former judges, prosecutors, defense counsel, police, and victim advocates. The Committee seeks to effect change that will light the way toward genuine and lasting improvement in the delivery of indigent defense services in America, thus enhancing the quality of justice for all.

Wednesday, March 18, Noon – 2:00 pm

A light lunch will be offered

The event is free to the public, but space is limited.  Register early.


Senior Judge Andre Davis, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Avis Buchanan, Director of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia

Lisa Foster, Director of the Access to Justice Initiative, U.S. Department of Justice

Nancy Fishman, Project Director, Center on Sentencing & Corrections, Vera Institute of Justice

Moderator: Doug Colbert, Professor of Law, University of Maryland and nationally recognized expert on early access to counsel

Special Guest: Abe Krash, who helped represent Clarence Earl Gideon and who also serves on the National Right to Counsel Committee


Arnold & Porter LLP
555 Twelfth Street, NW
Washington, D.C.
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