Enforcing the Right to Counsel

Public defenders in Pennsylvania, on behalf of their clients, can sue counties that are under-funding indigent defense budgets, the state’s supreme court has declared.

From the Associated Press:

Pennsylvania’s highest court will allow criminal defendants to sue a county in an effort to prove a public defender’s office isn’t adequately funded to provide the constitutional right to an attorney, a victory for civil rights lawyers.

The state Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling late Wednesday overturned a lower appellate court decision.

Mary Catherine Roper, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, said Thursday that, while the ruling is a victory, it is not a final victory for the plaintiffs — two criminal defendants — in the lawsuit against Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania.

 

Read the full opinion here

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