R2C National Consortium Quarterly Webinar (March 2017)

R2C National Consortium Quarterly Webinar (March 2017)


GENEVIEVE: Anna, if you
could go to the next two slides, that would be great. So today we have
a very full agenda and we’re really
excited about it. We’ve been participating in
this ongoing public opinion research. And so we’re going to kick off
our day with Nancy Beldon, who will give us an overview
of those findings from focus groups
and survey research. And then we’re going to go and
have some Q&A [? after that. ?] Then we’re going to turn it
over to some consortium member updates. And then at the end, we’ll have
more Q&A and announcements. So without further ado, I’m
going to turn it over to Nancy. And in advance, I apologize. We’ve received some
snow here, in DC, so we are having some
technical difficulties. But Nancy, we’re going
to try and figure out which attendee number
you are and unmute you so you will be able to speak. So Anna is going to go ahead and
try to unmute a couple of you. So Nancy, if you
just want to speak, then we will know
when you are unmuted. Thanks. OK, caller number 21, you’re
unmuted, so could be Nancy. No, doesn’t seem like it. NANCY BELDON: This
is Nancy Beldon. This is Nancy. ANNA: Great, I think
we found you, OK. NANCY BELDON: Great, OK? OK, so as Genevieve
was saying, we’ve had a few technical
difficulties, including the fact
that I’m at home and I didn’t
successfully log in. So I’m asking my friends
at American University and at the program to please
change my slides for me, and I’ll give you
the number as we go. But thank you very much for
having us here, and for having us undertake this research. If you’ll go to slide
two, let me just say a little bit about
what we were aiming to do. The survey and focus groups were
really to look at what people– the public– believes
currently about public defense and spending that might
be useful to improve it. We wanted to document beliefs
about how well the need is being met, and we will
definitely talk about that as we go through the findings. We wanted to know
something about support for things that
could be done to help solve some of the limitations. And we want to identify
values and information that could help us in
messaging going forward to talk to the public about the
importance of really adequately providing public defense. Let’s go to the methods
on the next page. We did six focus groups first. In April, we went to Richmond
and Columbus and Houston. We did groups with
Latinos and Latinas, with white people
and black people, with Republican men and women,
and democratic men and women separated into distinct groups
so we could look at them. We followed that with a
survey of 1,478 adults, including oversamples of
African-Americans and Latinos so that we could really
analyze them thoroughly. This was conducted using
a panel called AmeriSpeak, which is a great panel
that’s come into being in the last few years. It’s a probability-based panel. It’s online, but it’s also
supplemented with telephone, so it’s really a
great sample of the– representative sample
of the American public. And we did the interviewing
throughout September, ending the first of October. So next, just highlights,
four things that we’re going to talk about today. One is that there really
is a lot of public support for public defense. Most people, or a large majority
favored using tax money, even, to provide for it. Secondly, there is a lot of
awareness of the need already. We don’t need to be educating
people about how much need there is, that most people
think that there’s at least one out of every two, if not
more, if not people– need to have a lawyer provided
to them because they cannot afford it. Thirdly, we found a lot
of support for the reforms that we proposed. We put a few things on
the table for people and talked about them, and
then put them in the survey. And there was a lot of
support for doing things that would improve defense. And finally, we’d look
at the core values that are key to
messaging about this need and how to get people to really
sit up and think about it and care about it. Some of those are invoking
the Constitution and beliefs in equal justice and
desire to protect the innocent, and so forth. So we’ll come back to
those in just a bit. So let’s start the
next slide five, and then going to
six, about how much broad support there really
is for public defense. We used the term tax dollars
in our question about whether people would favor or oppose
providing lawyers for those who cannot afford them, people
accused of a crime who cannot afford a lawyer. We used tax dollars in order
to make the question somewhat difficult, and we still
get 62% saying that they favor spending taxes that way. Go to the next one. We also asked
people in the survey about the importance
of various programs. And we asked them
a bunch of things that the states and
federal governments might do to help
people with low income. So we have Medicaid, Head
Start, child care, food stamps, public defense lawyer,
and rental assistance. And as you can see,
public defense lawyer is not as popular as helping
people with food and Head Start, things for children,
and so forth, and health care. Nevertheless, you still have
52% saying it’s very important and another 33% saying somewhat. You have very strong
numbers of people thinking that this is something
that we need to do for people. So again, in the same vein,
if you go to slide eight, we also asked people– again, trying to make sure
we fully understood this– whether people thought that
they would favor their own state spending more tax dollars
to improve public defense. And here, you get again,
really big numbers– 21% saying they strongly
favor and 40% somewhat. So you have six in 10 are
agreeing that their own state should be doing this. So for this, go to nine. We also tested this
question, the same question I had on the previous
slide, but this one speaks– we substituted in the words
undocumented immigrants. And here you can see that the
strongly favor falls way off to 12, the somewhat
favored way off to 21. So it’s not that the desire to
help, the support for helping people is without question. There are certainly things
that can undo that support. And bringing up one of the more
contentious issues nowadays is certainly a good illustration
of how that support is not necessarily always
in place, if we talk about all kinds of people. OK, let’s go to 10. We’re in our second
point, which is that there is a widespread
idea and belief that there’s a need for public defenders. But there are some that
have mixed perceptions about how
well-qualified they are, or how able they are
to meet the need, based on what the system
provides for them. Let’s look at 11, about
what I’m talking about here. We asked people how well they
thought their own state does in providing access
for low-income people in the justice system,
in the court system. I’m sorry– to access to
justice in the court system. And here, the numbers
are not so great. People don’t think
we’re necessarily doing such a good job. You only have 5%
saying that they think their state is doing
an excellent job, 31% saying a good job. Most people say at least just
a fair, or poor or very poor, and the biggest bulk
of people are just in that middling
sort of fair, not so great, just fair position. So there is the underlying
idea and presumption here that things are not
necessarily being provided as they should be. Let’s look at the next slide. Again, underlining
the same idea, we asked people how often
they thought people who were arrested and accused of a crime
cannot afford to hire a lawyer. And fully half–
so 48% said most of the time and another 39%
said about half the time. So in essence, you
have nine in 10, almost, saying that
half or more of people who get arrested,
they think probably can’t afford to hire
a lawyer on their own. So big need– people
think there’s a big need. Just go to the next slide, 13. I’m sorry it’s got
too much on the slide. So let me just tell you
what it tells us, here. We asked people
whether they thought the public defenders generally
had one characteristic, or the opposite, but
well-qualified, not qualified, experienced,
inexperienced, et cetera. And what we found is
that there are really a lot of mixed views on the
quality of public defenders and on the adequacy of them. On the one hand– I shouldn’t say the quality
because on the one hand, six in 10 say that they
are very well-qualified. A small majority also says
they think they generally are experienced professionals. But things after that start
to fall apart a little bit, and particularly, as we get
down to the issue of whether or not they have
enough resources, and especially whether
they have enough time to devote to their clients. So here, we found the
public is quite pessimistic. So just generally,
the idea here is that while they
may be qualified, they may be
experienced people that are being sent to
these courtrooms and sent to meet
with people, but we don’t think that they really
have the time or the resources to do the job they need to do. So what about
solving some of this? Let’s got to 14. There’s a lot of support. And given what
we’ve seen so far, that is the belief that
there’s a big need in just for supporting the
public defenders. And there’s a lot of
need for providing them with the kind of resources they
need, and concern about it. So it’s not surprising,
then, that we found a lot of
enthusiasm for reforms. Let’s look at some of the
things we asked about. We had six ideas that were
put forward to our respondents and they all got the
strong vote of approval. 90% say, for example,
that establishing a system of supervision
and review is a good idea. 77% concurred that there
should be national standards for qualifications. 84% said that it
should be a good idea to require states to assign a
lawyer within three business days of arrest. This was something that,
in our focus groups, just drove people up
the wall, that people might languish in jail, waiting
for someone to come see them. We also had 85%
saying they believe that national
standards established for a minimal level of
resources is a good idea, and that those would include
things like expert witnesses, investigators,
DNA-testing, and so forth. These are all things
that, once again, the focus groups really,
really went to town on wanting these things,
saying that these things are what need to be there. And as you can see,
everything that we put forward got a lot of support,
particularly qualifications and standards and resources. So lots of support for improving
things and providing some changes. Let’s look at 16. We found on the other
hand, after all of my showing you that
there’s a lot of support for doing these
kinds of reforms, we also asked people
about who they thought should take the lead,
here, whether it’s the states or the
federal government. And we found people
quite divided over whether federally or
state-enforced public defense systems would be
their preference. 50% agree more
with the statement, and here, I’m going to read
you what we asked them. We said which of these two
do you agree with more? One is the federal government
should require all 50 states to provide a qualified
lawyer to every defendant that can’t afford one, and
the opposite view– the other view, I should
say, that people could pick was that each state
should be allowed to determine how far it
goes in providing lawyers to criminal defendants. So as you can see
looking at the pie here, that you
basically have people split almost down the middle. This is an area of disagreement. It’s the kind of
split, of course, that we’re seeing in lots
of public policy, currently. The focus groups, again,
revealed this kind of division when we had just Republican,
particularly Republican men, in the room. They came down decidedly on the
side of states taking the lead. And when we looked at– when we talked with Democrats,
we had a lot more enthusiasm for a federal role, here. So again, we have the
underlying support and belief in doing the right thing,
but how it’s accomplished can be divisive. OK, let’s go to the next one. Our final section, here,
is where we looked at, as we almost always
do, is what is it that people really care about? What values rise
to the top when we talk about the subject at hand? And here, we found that
the most important values and information that
we could put forward in support of improving
public defenders, and their resources,
and everything they have going to help them
achieve what they need to do, are things like equal justice
and fairness under the law, protecting the innocent,
and, particularly, referencing the Constitution. So let me show you, if we go
to the next one, some of what we did in our exercise, here. We read some people
some statements, or they read them online if they
were taking the survey online. And we asked them
how convincing they thought various arguments
were for reasons why we need to spend more tax
dollars on Public Defense. And we really found
that four shared values emerged as key pieces
of this and ways to communicate on the importance
of improving access to counsel. One is that public defense
is a constitutional right. It comes up any number
of times, and then you’re not seeing it on
this particular slide, but it is something
that we found. I’m sorry– it is here,
it’s just not written out in a way that will show that. But it’s the naming
of the Constitution and that is it’s a guaranteed
right, fundamental law, is important. Another is that it
serves the values of fairness and equal
justice under the law. A third one is that it
prevents innocent people from going to jail. And we also had
some conversation around this about
young people’s lives not being hurt and drawn into a
life of crime because of that. So those are things that are
very important and helpful in discussing the need
for more resources to go to public defense. Also, providing some
pieces of information are helpful,
particularly as you can see at the bottom of the
screen, there we asked– in one version of
the questionnaire, we said the public
defenders often only have a couple of hours
to get to each case. Some places [? tested ?]
another version. We tested a different version. We said that they only have
seven minutes per case. Both of those got, essentially,
the same percentage, which we’ve presented
here, which is, basically, 80% of people saying that’s
a really convincing reason to do something about this. So both values and some
information are important. Let’s go to the next slide. There’s some other things
that we put forward that were also important,
but they didn’t quite rise as being–
they weren’t seen as quite as convincing
reasons as why Americans value an effective public
defense system, and they include the
practical outcomes of good public defense. These can be important things
like reducing caseload– I mean, reducing
over-incarceration, provide alternatives
to incarceration, correcting racial unfairness. Some of those factual
things that– big outcomes to society
and systems, generally, but they’re just not
quite as first tier, top things that get people
excited about doing something. So they’re useful, but you would
want to lead with the values, particularly. So just summing up, if you
want to just go forward, I think our analysis
indicates that the information about the inadequacies of
the system are important. But increasing the
demand for change is really going to rely
more on referencing those core values of protecting
the innocent, the Constitution, fairness, and equal
justice under the law. So I’m going to stop there and
entertain questions from any– and toss this back
to the moderators. GENEVIEVE: Thank
you so much, Nancy. And if people have
any questions, please feel free to
use the Q&A function, and then we can read them
to Nancy for her to answer. And I also just wanted to
make one quick announcement that we are hoping to release
the report with the findings on Thursday, so
stay tuned for that. [INAUDIBLE] Anyone have any questions? ANNA: We don’t have any
questions coming in right now, but it’s possible
that there might be some at the end of the
webinar related to this. NANCY BELDON: I’ll hang in here. GENEVIEVE: All right, great. Well, so if we don’t have
any questions at this time, please, if something
comes up, use the Q&A and we will ask
questions later on. Nancy, we’re going to go
ahead and mute you again, now. So Anna will unmute you if we
get some questions coming in. NANCY BELDON: OK. GENEVIEVE: Wait, it does
actually look like– ANNA: Yeah, we just
got a couple questions. GENEVIEVE: [LAUGHS] ANNA: So the first one is,
“has there ever been an opinion research on preferences
between county and state control rather
than state and federal?” NANCY BELDON: Ooh,
there may be some. We don’t have it. It would be a very interesting
thing to delve into. I can tell you that, generally,
public opinion reveals that whenever you get
closer to home, for example, go from Congress to
your congressman, or the public schools
in the country, the public schools
in your community, you always get more favorable
views closer you come to home. So it’s conceivable that
there would be even more support for local control. But I don’t have that data– those data. ANNA: OK, another person
asked, “was there a distinction made between public defenders
and other defender systems?” NANCY BELDON: No,
not particularly. Although at the beginning of
the questionnaire, if I’m not mistaken, and I don’t
have it in front of me, I think we find for people
that some places have public defenders and some
jurisdictions hire people. So I think that that
difference was established, but we didn’t reference it
throughout the questionnaire. GENEVIEVE: Yeah, just
to jump off of that, we definitely made an
indication that when we referred to public
defenders, we were referring to the overall system. But I believe that we found
that most people weren’t able to kind of distinguish
the different systems and place everybody in that
overarching category. So sometimes it got a
little bit more confusing when we added all
of those layers. NANCY BELDON: Yes, also, I would
say that in the focus groups, we saw that people had a– maybe television-based, some of
them, but also to some degree, personally-based understanding
of what public defenders do. That they are for
poor people who can’t afford a lawyer on
their own, and so forth. There was not a lot of
confusion about the existence of some sort of system. But as Genevieve
said, whether or not they sit in an office that’s
just at public defender’s office, or whether they
are people brought in, is not necessarily something
that was distinguishable. ANNA: Another question
that just came in, “if these results appear
similar to a poll you all did back in the early
2000s, why don’t the results reflect the significant
change represented by this last election?” NANCY BELDON: Well,
for one thing, the poll was done
before the election, so I’m not sure what
your question is? Can you want to
read me that again? ANNA: It just says
“these results appear similar to a poll you all
did back in the early 2000s, why don’t the results reflect
the significant change represented by this
last election?” NANCY BELDON:
Well, they are very similar to what we found in the
earlier survey, that’s true. What that suggests to us is
that opinions in this area are very stable. People are not
particularly– haven’t had something happen
to them that that would have changed their view. As I said, we did a
survey in October, so it was conducted
before the election. It was in the midst of
the campaign season. It’s an interesting
question, whether or not the views might have changed,
given the sort of public mood and all the discussion
that we’ve been having. But I would be surprised if
they have moved remarkably on this particular
topic, given that it is a polarized
environment that we’re in, and these views and this survey
are polarized to some degree, as well. In each case, the
Republican conservative base is more likely to
go the other way. Not entirely–
that’s why when you see those big numbers in
support of most of these things, but they are less supportive. It’s a curious
question, but I sort of doubt that we would have seen,
on this particular issue, a lot of movement. GENEVIEVE: Yes,
also, I think just to add to that, these results,
while they asked people to rank the importance
of public defense among other social
issues, they didn’t ask people to rank
public defense and these social issues
relative to other factors that were going on in our country. So we think that’s
also why it wasn’t– maybe another reason why these
results weren’t necessarily immediately reflected
in the election results, or in how the
elections took place. And then Anna, I think we had
one last question come in, if you want to read that one? ANNA: [? Sure. ?] GENEVIEVE: And then
we will turn it over to consortium member updates. ANNA: “The top response for
supporting public defenders was quality should not
be based on money.” And the person asking
this question just wants some clarification on
what that response means. NANCY BELDON: I’m sorry, can
you start over, read it again? ANNA: “The top response for
supporting public defenders was quality should not
be based on money,” and the person
who was writing in would like some clarity on
what that response means. NANCY BELDON: I’m sorry, do
you understand the question? I’m not sure I
understand the question. GENEVIEVE: So I
think the question is being that the top response
for why people support public defenders is saying that
the quality of representation– the quality should
not be based on money, and that they just wanted
a little clarity on what that means. My interpretation of that, and
Nancy, correct if I’m wrong, is simply that
people were saying the quality of representation
should not depend on whether somebody has
the financial means to hire a private attorney,
and so people supported public defenders because
they felt that you should have quality
representation regardless of your financial means. NANCY BELDON:
Absolutely, absolutely, I think that that
is something that is just a fundamental
that people from the left to the
right agree with. And the focus groups, we– this is the kind of thing
that came up spontaneously. People always referenced
sort of the OJ issue. And that’s something
that, again, a lot of what people know
and think about this topic probably comes from their
television exposure, and that whole idea that
somebody could get off from something that the public
thinks they were guilty of was has been very illustrated
to them in dramatizations, as well as those documentaries
sort of reporting. So it’s just a very
fundamental thing that I think cuts across all
parties and types of people. GENEVIEVE: So great, thank
you, again, so much, Nancy. And again, if people
have more questions, you can continue to
send them in the Q&A and we can ask them at
the end of the webinar. But without further
ado, I’ll turn it back over to Anna
to go through some of our consortiums and
[? updates. ?] Thanks. ANNA: OK, so now we
will be going over to Diane Price, who will be
giving the member updates. So I’m going to
unmute you, Diane, on give you control
of the [? slides. ?] DIANE PRICE: Great, so the first
update I’m going to talk about is some of the
updates that NACDL has to share, the National
Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, to those
of you who may not be familiar with the acronym. Since our last meeting
in October of last year, NACDL released its Pretrial
Release Manual for New Jersey. New Jersey, in 2014,
passed some legislation and a constitutional amendment
to completely overhaul the state’s pretrial
release system, to adopt a pretrial risk
assessment to better identify individuals who were low-risk
and could be safely released pending trial, as well as
high-risk individuals who would be more
appropriately detained without bond pending trial
because of community safety concerns. So those new procedures
went into effect on January 1st, 2017,
and that includes public defenders at all first
appearances for the first time ever. So NACDL collaborated with
the ACLU of New Jersey and the New Jersey Office
of the Public Defender to produce this manual that
explains the changes to the law and procedure, and provide
advocacy tips for defenders. The idea being that even
with the risk assessment, you still need strong
defender advocacy in order to make good decisions
regarding pretrial release. The release of the manual
was in December of 2016, and was accompanied by
three one-day training programs in various
areas of the state so that we could train
those attorneys who would be participating in
first appearances and detention hearings. The most recent
information that I’ve heard regarding detention
rates, actually– the slide says 10% of the
defendants being detained, but I heard at the Pretrial
Innovation Convention last week that the
number is actually closer to 15%, which sounded
a little bit high to me. But upon further looking
into it a little bit more, that is in line with
what DC is doing, which is generally upheld as
pretty good pretrial release program. So we expect to continue to
stay in contact with folks in New Jersey to
see how things go and make sure that they are
following the new statutes that allow for this
[? bellas ?] representation at first appearance. Another update from the NACDL,
we released a new report about the right to
counsel in South Carolina. This was a follow-up to
last spring Summary [? In ?] [? Justice ?] Report. And we used mostly law
students and some lawyers to gather data about what
happened in 49 different court sessions throughout the state. These are in their
summary courts, which are minor misdemeanor courts. Generally, jurisdiction
is for crimes that are up to 30 days in
jail, or up to a $500 fine, though there are a few
more serious charges that go to these courts. But there more than
400 summary courts scattered throughout the
state of North Carolina, only 46 General Sessions
courts, which is where our more serious
misdemeanors and felonies are heard. So there are a bunch
of these courts. And what we have found
between our two studies, the Summary [? In ?]
[? Justice ?] and Rush to Judgment reports, are that
there is a huge lack of counsel in these courts. In our study, fewer than 10%
of defendants had counsel. There was frequent failure
to inform of rights. More than one in 10 defendants
observed in the study was assigned to a
courtroom in which no advisement of
any rights was given at the beginning of
the court’s session. There was also
substantial variation among counties regarding
what rights were covered. For example, in Orangeburg
County, more than 40% of observed cases
were in courtrooms where the opening
advisement didn’t even mention the constitutional
right to an attorney at all, much less to the right
to an appointed attorney. In more than half of
the cases observed, magistrate and
municipal judges did have some personal interaction
with defendants that gave them the opportunity to provide
individualized advisement of rights. But during those
interactions, judges routinely failed to address basic
constitutional rights. So they would
basically open court with some sort of advisement
of general rights, but wouldn’t actually have
any individual discussion with the defendant to make sure
that that particular defendant understood his or her rights,
understood the rights that they were waiving if they decided
to go without counsel, and that sort of thing. More than half of
defendants, 50.9%, were not advised of
their right to counsel when speaking to the judge. And the last note that I have
there, nearly 26% of cases were resolved without a
single lawyer involved. What I mean by that– judges are not required to
be lawyers in South Carolina summary courts, and
many of them are not. So nearly 26% of the
observed defendants had their cases processed
without interacting with a single lawyer. This is a case that was
prosecuted by a police officer rather than by a state attorney. There was no defense counsel
and the judge hearing the case was not a
licensed attorney. That number actually
rises significantly if you take out
Richland County, which is Columbia, where over 95%
of judges had law degrees. So if you exclude
Richland County, and look only at the other
four counties that we studied, 89% of defendants
that we witnessed were processed in courts
without a single lawyer involved whatsoever. So based on that, we did
make some recommendations for reform. Number one– staff
summary courts with prosecutors, defenders,
and judges who are attorneys. As I mentioned, most of the
cases in these summary courts don’t even have actual
state prosecutors. They are prosecuted by
the police officer who arrested or cited the
defendant into court, which means that defendants, also,
who don’t have counsel, are negotiating directly
with the police officer who arrested them or cited them when
trying to resolve their case. Another suggestion for
reform is to decriminalize traffic offenses to lessen the
load in these summary courts. Almost all traffic
offenses in South Carolina are also criminal offenses
that do trigger the right to counsel, and they
are a large portion of the cases that are going
into these summary courts, which makes those much fuller, makes
those dockets much heavier, makes it harder for the state
to comply with its right to counsel. Third, we think that they
should reduce fines and fees and offer alternatives to
incarceration for the indigent. For example, state
assessments in South Carolina are very high, currently 107.5%. So what I mean by that is if
a person is given a $100 fine, there’s an extra $107.50
tacked on top of that. We really saw these fines and
fees adding up, particularly in shoplifting cases, where
indigent defendants were frequently assessed fines
costs and fees totaling $2,130. Plus, if they wanted to
get on a payment plan there was an additional
3% tacked on to that. Fourth, South Carolina should
start gathering data on whether or not
defendants had counsel. They are gathering some
limited data in summary courts, mostly about what
the charge was, how long it took to
go through the system, the opening date,
the close date. They might be doing some
collection on demographics, but I’m not sure. But it doesn’t seem that
they’re being very careful about determining whether or
not defendants had counsel, whether or not they were advised
of their rights to counsel, whether a written or
oral waiver was taken, or that sort of thing. So we’d like to see a lot
more robust data being gathered in South Carolina
on counsel issues. And then finally, enacting
uniform procedures for advisement of rights
and plea colloquies is something that’s
really important, to make sure that
we’re not just– in some places, they
are showing a video at the beginning of court that
tells you all your rights, which has some very
helpful information. But a video can’t
answer questions. And if you’re not present
for the viewing of the video, then you’re not getting
that information. So we’d really like to
see uniform individualized advisement of rights
and plea colloquies to ensure that these
folks are understanding what their rights are, and
if they choose to waive them, making sure that that’s actually
their choice and not just something that they sort
of feel forced into. So that is all I have and
I’m going to turn it over to Andrea Marsh to
talk about the most recent report on Louisiana. ANDREA MARSH: Hi, good
afternoon, everyone. I’m Andrea Marsh
and I am the author of the recent NACDL
report, State of Crisis: Chronic Neglect and Underfunding
of Louisiana’s Public Defense System, with which was released
at the beginning of March. The report is a component
of NACDL’s contribution to ongoing efforts to address
Louisiana’s public defense crisis. These ongoing efforts
involve many state and national organizations,
public defenders, private attorneys,
and community groups. And in fact, publication
of this report is one of many
developments related to Louisiana’s public
defense system that have occurred in just
the past six or so weeks. So in addition to the
publication of the report, we’ve seen the dismissal of
the federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU. We’ve seen the filing of new
statewide litigation and state court by the Southern
Poverty Law Center, the Lawyers’
Committee, and others, and the publication of
[? Glade’s ?] [? Workwood ?] study for Louisiana. So there is a lot
going on in Louisiana and a lot has been
written about what is going on in Louisiana’s
public defense system. So a fair question, I
think, is what this report can add to that conversation? And that’s what I want
to focus on today. The report places
the current crisis in the context of the history
of Louisiana’s public defense system, and goes back to the
state’s response to Gideon. The report, in this
way, updates the history of Louisiana’s
public defense system that was provided in a 2004
report commissioned by NACDL. That report is In the Defense
of Public Access to Justice. And this new report covers
subsequent developments, including passage of the
Louisiana Public Defender Act in 2007, the work of the
Statewide Public Defender Board created by that act, and the
2016 amendment to The Public Defender Act that
passed in response to the political fallout
from the current crisis. Viewed in this context, the
current public defense crisis was not unforeseeable,
or even unexpected. It’s perhaps best characterized
not as a standalone crisis, but as the most recent flare-up
in a state of perpetual crisis that goes back
decades in Louisiana. Judges and state
officials have responded to sort of previous
flare-ups in this crisis by creating a series of boards
that have had increasing powers over the years. But they have never
funded those reforms at a level that has allowed
them to take root statewide. And so the lesson that we
take from this history, and that the report kind of
lays out, is that at this point, there is no reason to believe
that reform in Louisiana can be successful, at least in
the mid to long-term, unless it squarely takes on the fiscal
issues that have doomed previous cycles of reform that
have happened in this state, and that have led to
similar crises in the past. The report [? answers ?]
broadly at the public defense crisis in Louisiana. A lot of the popular media
coverage of the public defense crisis has focused on the
consequences of the crisis, which are certainly severe. I think we’ve all read about
waitlists caused by restriction of services and the
indefinite detention of accused individuals
without access to counsel. A lot of the policy
work, policy writing on this that has focused
on the causes of the crisis has focused on
funding, and that is for good and obvious reasons. As I’ve already discussed,
fixing the funding in Louisiana system
is an essential part of meaningful reform
in that state. But in the report, we also
found that consistent funding pressures had diverted attention
to maintaining solvency of these offices, basically just
breaking even on the budget, at the expense of making
necessary improvements to the quality of
representation. So there are some
glaring problems with the quality
of representation that have never been addressed
either before or after passage of The Public
Defender Act in 2007, including mass guilty
pleas, or lawyers who do not communicate with their clients. The Louisiana Public Defender
Board created in 2007 has never had the
staff and resources it needs to train on the
performance standards that it developed. And a lack of training on the
standards at the district level and a focus on basically just
keeping the lights on in some of these offices had undermined
[? dissenter ?] [? buy-in ?] for public messaging around
restriction of services during the crisis. So basically, offices were
going on and off of waitlists, sort of separate from– independently of what their
caseloads were, and really just based on could they
maintain solvency over a certain period of time? So our overall findings
is that the system needs more funding and a more
stable source of funding. But it also needs to refocus on
providing representation that meets professional
and ethical standards instead of focusing on
merely breaking even on budgets that reflect years
of quality-compromising budget cuts. The report makes six
formal recommendations. The first is that the Louisiana
legislature should fully fund the provision of
public defense services in Louisiana from
general revenue. So that recommendation
involves both a move to state funding and
an increase in funding. This [? Glade ?] [? Workwood ?]
study clearly demonstrates that the system is underfunded and
currently only is about 21% of capacity– funded at 21% of
the capacity needed to provide quality
defense services. Recommendation two
in our report is that the Louisiana
legislature should repeal the public defender
fee on convictions and the public defender
application fee, and replace those local
funding streams, which are based on tickets,
basically convictions on [INAUDIBLE] with
state general revenue. However, if local revenue is a
necessary transitional measure before sufficient state funding
is available to fully fund public defense, changes should
be made to those local revenue streams that will make them
more stable across defender districts. The third recommendation
that Louisiana should establish parity
between the defense function and the Constitution. Four, Louisiana
judges should respect the independent
professional judgment of lawyers who provide
public defense services. And this really
targets a practice of forcing defenders
who have conflict to remain on cases, despite
their independent judgment that they should not
maintain representation. Recommendation five is that
Louisiana judges should release from detention accused
individuals for whom the state cannot provide counsel due to
its understanding of the public defense system. Right now, most people
who have been held, who are on waitlists, and who
cannot afford to post bail just remain in jail, and there
has been no systemic response for a deal with the
indefinite detention problem. And the final recommendation
is that the State Board and the defender
community should be focused on improving the
quality of representation, rather than merely
surviving the next crisis. And this really
goes to getting out of sort of this defensive
posture focused on [? insolvency, ?] to
recenter themselves on the goal of delivering
standards-based representation, even in the face of sort of
crushing fiscal pressures. And I’m happy to take questions
at the end of the webinar. But right now, I will turn
it back to the moderator. ANNA: Thank you, Andrea. We will turn it over
to April right now. APRIL: Hi, everyone. Can you hear me? ANNA: Yes, we can hear you. APRIL: Thank you. So I’m going to be
providing updates from attendees who attended the
October convening on the right to counsel. So a part of the
convening [? was ?] we had breakout groups. And we talked about what we
were going to do individually to go back into our
communities and advance the right to counsel. And we surveyed the group of
attendees and received feedback about, specifically,
what they were doing in their jurisdictions to
advance the right to counsel. We received a update
from Virginia, from Bonnie Hoffman, the
deputy public defender. And in Virginia,
they are working on introducing
legislation specifically around discovery rules. And as public defenders,
we know how important it is to make sure that we
have statutes in place that truly affords our clients a
meaningful right to counsel. So in Virginia,
they’re currently working on proposing legislation
in Virginia to pursue discovery in the state of Virginia. We also received a update
from Utah, Judge Michael Kwan from Taylorsville Justice court. We were really happy to
hear from him about what he was doing personally in
his courtroom to improve the right to counsel. And he went back and
expanded his colloquy that he provides
to people accused of crimes in the courtroom. And he also talked about
resisting the attempts from the executive branch to
limit appointments and also the difficulty in
reimbursing attorney fees. So this is really a
positive step in Utah, but specifically, in the
courtroom of Judge Kwan. And we look forward to
hearing more from him about his experience
in implementing these changes in his courtroom. We also received a update
from Kathleen Casey in Indiana, who is
a staff attorney. And her update is
really more general. We talked about messaging
at the last convening about how do you sell the
message about the importance of right to counsel. And she reported
to us that she’s using the information and
techniques that she learned to actually start a conversation
in her state about the right to counsel. OK, and finally, we had a
update from Judge Brian McKenzie which is really positive. He’s taken the step to actually
publish an article on the right to counsel. And specifically,
he wrote an article to the membership of the
American Judges Association about the importance
of right to counsel. And he’s also following
up on that written piece to prepare a presentation
along with American University at the year meeting for the
American Judges Association. And this is really
important work because we know one of our key
stakeholders is the judiciary. He also mentioned that
he wrote a article for online publication,
and also is promoting the right to counsel
through his company’s Justice Speakers Institute
Facebook page and website. So we were really excited
to hear these updates from those who attended the
annual convening on right to counsel. And we also encouraged
people to share with us throughout the year
what you’re doing in your individual
jurisdictions who advance the right to counsel. And we would love to
feature your updates on the future webinars. And I think that’s it. I’m going to turn it
back over to Genevieve. ANNA: Thank you, April. I think now we have Amy. AMY: Can you hear me? ANNA: Yes, we can hear you. AMY: OK, great. So Kathleen Casey, who’s
sitting next to me, was Good enough to
send in information about Indiana’s Smart on
Juvenile Justice program. And we’re really excited
to be doing something to promote right to
counsel in juvenile cases. We received, through the
Indiana Public Defender Council, a grant in Indiana
from the Office of Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention in 2006. A planning grant to come
up with a state plan to improve indigent and
juvenile defense services and to improve our system. So we were one of four states
that received a planning grant. And through that,
each state was tasked to come up with a state plan. We had an advisory
board, a really large statewide stakeholder
group that included judges, public defenders from all
over the state, prosecutors, probation. And we identified some of
the gaps in the system. One thing that Indiana was
working off of was in 2006, we went through the assessment
from National Juvenile Defender Center, and then
they did a access to counsel and quality
of representation in juvenile delinquency
cases for us. So 10 years ago,
the problems that were identified as a
part of that assessment are, in a large part,
still in existence. We were addressing things
like the high rate of kids still going through
the system without ever having had an attorney. We were addressing
things like a lack of a direct appeals
in juvenile cases and a really inconsistent
quality of representation in juvenile cases. So one thing that– I forgot to advance my
slides, sorry about that. So this is the federal
funding that we received. As a follow-up to
the planning grant, Indiana was one
of two states that was awarded an implementation
grant from OJJDP. And so we’re about halfway
through the first year of that implementation grant. We’re in the process
now of trying to acquire state funding
to sustain the improvements that we’re putting in place. One of our goals is to ensure
that all youth have access to counsel at critical stages,
including early appointment, at detention hearings
and initial hearings. An Indiana law
provides for that, but what was found during
the president in 2006, and is still the
case in many places, is that kids were
being allowed to waive their right to counsel before
they ever met with an attorney. So even though they had
a right to an attorney and one should
have been appointed at the first time the
kids met with a judge, they were allowing kids
to waive their rights. The assessment found that
in some counties, up to 80% of the kids were going
through the [? system ?] without attorneys. So 80% of the kids were
waiving their rights. What we found in
the planning process was that we made some
improvements over the 10 years since the assessment. We have a fairly
new rule in Indiana that limits that ability to
take a waiver from a youth and requires the
appointment of counsel before a kid can waive
their right, in some cases. So what we found was
over a one-year period after that took effect, the
rates of unrepresented kids went down slightly. So it had had some effect. So statewide, in 2014, the data
we looked at showed about 43% of the kids were unrepresented
[? at ?] statewide. In 2015, which is the year
that that new rule took effect, about 35.5% of the kids
went through unrepresented. So it had some effect,
but it wasn’t being applied as it was written. We had 92 counties. They do things 92 ways. We’re a home rule state. So there were some issues and
still are with some courts not following that rule. So one of our goals
is to make sure that kids do have counsel
when they’re supposed to and have access to counsel. The second goal that
we’ve been working on is to create a strong
system of post-dispositional representation for youth through
increase state resources, including appellate
representation and civil legal
services upon re-entry. We found in looking at
the data in Indiana– we looked at a
six-year period when we were in the planning
grant and looked at how many juvenile
delinquent appeals were being done in the state. And over six years,
we had found that in– I think it was about 290– somewhere around
290 appeals had been done in that six-year period. And about 60% of those
were from one county, and that’s the county
that Indianapolis in. And it’s kind of
telling that that is the only county
that has [? had ?] separate juvenile
public defender agents– separate juvenile
public defender office with full-time staff, and that
it’s also the only county that has a separate public
defender appellate office with full-time staff. We found that over half
the counties in the state had not had a single
juvenile delinquency appeal in six years. So one of the
things that we have been able to do through
this implementation grant, and through our planning,
is to create a– we reached a memorandum
of understanding with our Department
of Corrections. And we were able to set
up a system where we’re going to provide orientation
and intake on legal rights to kids coming into the
Department of Correction. And then we’ve set up a system
to connect kids that are still within their time
period for appeal and qualify to get
an attorney appointed and to get some
appellate representation. So we are excited to develop
some appellate caselog, some of the issues that we’re seeing. And we’ve got a
trial unit here is going to work with
trial-level public defenders to develop some of those
issues that we see as coming up and being important. This third goal was to create
a system of comprehensive and thorough legal advocacy
recognizing juvenile defense as a specialization. And as I said before,
we’re county-based. We’ve got 92 counties. Every county, we have a lot
of different public defender delivery services in Indiana. Some of them work
better than others. We have a lot of
attorneys that just do a bit of juvenile
delinquency here and there. And so training on
juvenile-specific issues is the big need. We’re developing
juvenile-specific training using the [? j-tip ?] model
from National Juvenile Defenders Center. And it’s kind of an
interactive, almost like a trial practice system. And we’re going to do regional,
free juvenile-specific training throughout the state, and we
should be starting that in May, so that’s another thing that
we’re pretty excited about. We are also providing
some technical assistance for trial-level juvenile public
defenders as we go forward. And then the last thing
was, through this process, we’re trying to enhance
our juvenile data collection to promote accuracy
and collect key defense data indicators statewide. What we found was that
the data that is available statewide isn’t very reliable. We’ve had to cobble
it together from a lot of different sources. We know that some of the data
reported at the state level by counties isn’t accurate. I mean, you can tell just
by looking at some of it. So we’re working to develop
two to four pilot sites that we can work
on best practices with, provide some
concentrated assistance on some of the things I
just talked about, and also work with
them on data collection to look at key defense
data indicators. So National Juvenile
Defenders Center is our technical systems
provider for the grant that we’re under. And they have also been working
on a data indicators project and have been very
helpful with that. Our main thing that we
are facing right now is trying to get the state to
invest in this juvenile defense improvement. When we went from
the planning grant and were applying for
implementation grant, we were really
pleasantly surprised to get bipartisan support both
from our state representatives and our federal representative. And so we’re hoping now
we’re in a budget session that that translates
into some state support. So that’s all I had, unless
anybody had any questions. GENEVIEVE: I think we’re
going to wait to do questions till the end, so I’m going
to pass it over to Renata. RENATA: Guessing
you can hear me OK? GENEVIEVE: Yes, we can hear you. RENATA: OK, this
Saturday, the 18th, is the fourth anniversary
of Gideon versus Wainwright and marks the second
annual Public Defense Day. So let’s go to the next
slide and I can show you what we did last year. Yeah, so last year, [? with ?]
our first Public Defense Day, National Association
of Public Defense, NAPD, coordinated it. We developed the
tipping-the-scales logo that was done by a paralegal at
[? Legal Aid ?] New York City’s office. And we’ve called it [INAUDIBLE]. We use it in our
social media campaign and it even ended up on a
cake in [? our ?] public defense office. I think that was in
Idaho, but I’m not sure. So the way it ended up
being celebrated was– last year I think
it was a Friday, so offices had parties, like the
tipping-the-scales cake, taco bars, ice cream bars, pizza. The upper left hand
corner on the left shows the King County public
defenders office in Seattle. They got a proclamation
from the mayor, I think, like, announcing
it was public defense day, or something like that. There were different local
proclamations and recognition. And there were even
several elected officials who then tweeted about
Public Defense Day, the day of celebration in the offices. And then also, we did
a big social media campaign with the
hashtag #publicdefenseday and were pleasantly surprised
at the large organizations like the Marshall Project
recognizing it, as well. And we got some minor
celebrities to tweet about it. And our membership
on social media, it was really sweet
[? because, ?] [? see, ?] on Facebook, several people I
know who are public defenders would comment on or
made posts on Facebook, something to the
effect of, look, I never talk about my work. I usually just post pictures
of my kids on Facebook. But it’s Public
Defense Day so I want to talk a little bit
about the work I do and why it’s important to me. And then you’d see uncle Bob
comment, really proud of you, son. That’s good work
that you’re doing. I didn’t realize
you were doing that. So it was a great day for us to
just pat ourselves on the back and then get some
recognition from a variety of different places
for the work that we do that often goes unrecognized. There was also events
at court houses, or elected officials
in Brooklyn, [? I think, ?] Legal
Aid Society that co-sponsored an event with
Brooklyn Defender Services. And we had some city council
members speakers come and talk, and public defense
talked about our work in the ceremonial courtroom. And some PD officers had
letters to the editor and op-eds published around
public assistance, about the importance
of public defenders. So let’s got to the
next slide and we can talk about what
we’re doing this week. Since Public Defense
Day falls on Saturday, we’re celebrating
Public Defense Week. You can see we have our
tipping-the-scales-of-justice logo. That’s courtesy,
again, [INAUDIBLE] I have to give her huge
shout-out for all her work on this. We [? stood by on ?]
four issue areas that we wanted to touch upon
or focus on for the first four days of the week. So bail, fines, and
fees, [? ending ?] the debtors’ prison. Yesterday, we did a lot of
social media around those issue and what public
defenders are doing, and what innovative practices
public defenders are doing. Today, we’re highlighting the
work of death penalty lawyers. Tomorrow, we’re going to
focus on racial justice injustice the court system. And Thursday, on
juvenile rights. Each day, we’re also raise up
the work of different member offices and agencies. So yesterday, I published
something on Facebook about Washington Appellate Project’s
campaign to reduce some of [? the keys ?] to start
getting [? appeals. ?] And Thursday, I will– I got an email from
Kathleen Casey. I got the work that she
just talked about in Indiana and we’ll make sure that we
highlight that on Facebook and on Twitter, as well. Friday is a day of
celebration, so we expect more pictures of office
lunches and maybe something after work. And Saturday is a day to
celebrate in the community the work that we do. So let’s go to the next slide
and I can talk about some of the resources that we’ve
created for NAPD members. So NAPD is– there are
individual members, and then there are also
public defense agencies who are members, and
therefore, anybody who is a employee of that public
defense agency is also a member and has access. Membership gives you
access to MyGideon.org. And on MyGideon, we
created fact sheets for each of the four issues. Those fact sheets
include a resource guide where you can get
more information, as well as talking
points and sample tweets to use, including hashtags. We also did a
series of tutorials. This came out of– last year it was easier
for large organizations that have communications
staff to publish op-eds and to be active on Twitter. So the smaller agencies
that may have, like, a five-person office,
or a three-person office don’t really have that capacity. So we have guides to
how to write an op-ed, how to use Twitter. How to use [? Canva ?]
to modify your graphics. And then we also supplied
a number of graphics that people can modify,
with instructions for how to modify them so
you can add your own agency’s logo on them. That’s it for MyGideon. Oh, I guess I should also
make a plug for NAPD, that this week we’ve
reduced our membership fees. I think it’s something
really low, like $10 a year. So if people aren’t
members, perhaps they’ll be inclined to consider it. And then Saturday, we talked
about doing a celebration, so let’s go to the
next slide and I can talk about Concerts
for Indigent Defense. We’ve [INAUDIBLE] is
on that call that says, [? “Hey, Baby.” ?] He’s
organized a concert in New Orleans, but I think there’s
also a concert that’s going to be happening in Bridgeport,
Connecticut, and Denver, Colorado. The Denver, Colorado
one is actually featuring public defenders. So it’s simple, and you
can get more information at
concertsforindigentdefense.org. This is just a screenshot
of their webpage. Concerts For Indigent
Defense, the idea is that musicians will dedicate
their concerts on March 18th to Indigent Defense. This is not a fundraiser. This is not that they’re
donating ticket sales to Indigent Defense. They’re not committing to making
a long, impassioned speech of indigent defense. Although I understand that
at the New Orleans concert, the head of New Orleans
Office of the Public Defenders will be speaking. But the idea is just
to raise some awareness about indigent defense. And people can still
set up concerts, or if they’re already
planning on playing a gig anyhow on March 18th,
they can do a shout-out to indigent defense on that day. So that’s our celebration. And that concert will
also be simulcast online, so those of us who don’t
live in New Orleans and maybe someplace
colder, snowy, or icier, can curl up at home with our
laptops and enjoy good music and celebrating the
work that we do. So I’m going to the last slide. Follow-up on Facebook. [INAUDIBLE] even to this. We also created– I put the
actionsprout website there. So we created even an
overlay, so this frame that you can do around your
Facebook profile picture that features our
tipping-the-scales logo, again, to promote the day. And we’re using
the listed hashtags on Twitter–
#celebratepublicdefense, #defendGideon and
#tippingthescales. But just talking to friends
and family, not even the media, about the work we
do seems to also– I think is also an important
and kind of profound act, given its simplicity. So I wish you all a
happy Public Defense Week and hope you do something
fun to celebrate on Friday. ANNA: Thank you, Renata. So we are still available
to takes questions. And I– Genevieve, do you
want to do announcements now? GENEVIEVE: Mm, yeah, if you have
any questions or announcements. [INAUDIBLE] [? Stephen ?] [? Saloon ?]
is on the line, so Anna, we want to unmute him if there’s
anything you’d like to add about the Concerts
for Indigent Defense. And if there’s anybody
else who would like to make an announcement, there is
[? next to ?] [? here, ?] on the right side, you
can see a little hand. If you click on that, it’s
the raised hand function and it let’s us know that
you would like to speak, and so we can unmute
you do and get to you. Or [? post ?] a question or an
announcement in the Q&A that we can share [? with ?]
[? everyone. ?] [? STEPHEN SALOON: ?] Hi,
yeah, and this is Steve and I just want to
thank Renata not only for really doing a great
job explaining what Concerts for Indigent Defense
is, but also to NAPD for their support on this. And it’s been great. We’re going to roll it out
in New Orleans this year. Just so you all know, the show
is going to be roughly from 5:00 to 7:00PM, Central
Time, on this Saturday. And it should be a lot of fun. And it’s not– it will be
a two-hour production that will feature a whole bunch
of different excellent local musicians from New Orleans,
interspersed with interviews with them, prerecorded
interviews with them about why they care about the issue
and how it’s impacted them and their families, and
why they’re doing this. And so it should be a
pretty powerful event and the hope and the
plan is that this will be a model for how
defenders and supporters of public defenders in
states across the country can have their local
musicians do something similar in the future. And just to weigh the whole
point, the whole idea that– I’ve been toying with this
idea for over a dozen years. And the whole idea
of it is simply to find a very simple and
uncomplicated way, at least on one day a year, to be able
to draw in public attention to this really valued,
constitutional right that is crucial to our
court system’s ability to do justice, and therefore
crucial to all of us. And that’s kind of the frame
of the message, as well. So many thanks to NAPD and all
of you for all that you do, and the good folks
in New Orleans. I just had to hop off the
webinar for a radio interview with the NPR station down
there that the Orleans Public Defenders set up for us,
so it’s going to be great. And we appreciate that y’all
are welcome to pitch in, ask questions, tune in. And if there’s anything you
want to do in the future, let us know. GENEVIEVE: Great,
thank you so much. That sounds really wonderful. And hopefully, there’ll be
many more concerts to come. So it doesn’t look like we’ve
received any other questions or announcements. So if you have
anything at the time, please feel free to submit
it, or use the raised hand function. And otherwise, I just want to
thank everybody for staying on. We had 20 attendees that
stayed on the entire time, so it’s really wonderful for
an hour and a half webinar. And thank you so much to all of
our presenters for joining us today. And if you have any other
questions about the Right to Counsel national campaign,
or want to be involved, please feel to reach out to myself. My email address and the
phone number are there. And you can also visit
the Right to Counsel national campaign website, which
is RTCnationalcampaign.org. So thank you all very much. Have a wonderful day.

You May Also Like

About the Author: Oren Garnes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *