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Free JusticeA History of the Public Defender in Twentieth-Century America$
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Sara Mayeux

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469661650

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469661650.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

A Permanent Crisis

A Permanent Crisis

(p.117) Chapter Four A Permanent Crisis
Free Justice

Sara Mayeux

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter traces the rocky implementation of Gideon v. Wainwright between 1963 and 1973, continuing the Massachusetts case study begun in chapter 2 and also addressing developments in Philadelphia and other localities. Although states could technically comply with Gideon in a variety of ways (e.g. appointing private counsel case-by-case),many lawyers and reform organizations interpreted Gideon as a broader mandate to establish and expand institutionalized public defender offices. The Ford Foundation and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) embarked upon the National Defender Project, an ambitious nationwide effort. As a result of such efforts, the 1960s witnessed change and growth in public defender offices around the country. In Massachusetts, for example, the organization initially founded as a voluntary defender was converted from a private charity into a statewide public defender agency, hired dozens of new lawyers, and was soon handling tens of thousands of cases each year. Yet, criticisms quickly emerged that public defenders had overwhelming caseloads and resorted too often to plea bargaining, rather than trial advocacy. Reformers diagnosed a new problem, the “indigent defense crisis” that persists today.

Keywords:   Gideon v. Wainwright, Ford Foundation, NLADA, National Defender Project, public defender, plea bargaining, indigent defense

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