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Right To Counsel Essay

1286 words - 5 pages

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.” (US Const., 8th Amend.) As shown in the constitution the right to counsel for the defense is a key right in our judicial system. The role of the public-defender office is one of utmost importance and rightfully so; every day various arrests are made in relation to all sorts of crimes. As a result many of those who face charges will hire an attorney to provide them with legal assistance. However it is no secret that attorney fees can be quite costly and not everyone can afford to spend such large sums of money at any given point in time. To allow equal access, the government spends millions of taxpayer dollars on the public defense system. These offices and their employees are considered to be part of the Judicial Branch. Their purpose is to provide indigent defendants with access to trained attorneys, which in turn provide them with free legal assistance in regards to their respective case. However, with such a large and important task, this system has key issues that raise the following questions: Is there a standard for the service provided by the attorney that is met by the public defenders? Do these attorneys receive adequate training and funds in order to represent indigent defendants equally? Should the defendants be appointed attorneys who are equal to the prosecution’s attorney? We will discuss and analyze these questions in relation to other topics related to the right to counsel.
One of the main issues that public defenders face across the nation is a lack of resources and funds. Public defenders find it increasingly difficult to assist and accommodate their defendants when they themselves are not awarded the proper resources to fulfill this task. They often lack the funds to interview clients and witnesses and require judicial approval in order to retain experts (Ogletree). This lack of funding forces the public defender to take on a much higher caseload in comparison to his counter part at a private law firm. Public defenders often find little time to prepare for their client’s sentence hearing. Furthermore, newly appointed public defenders do not receive the adequate training and supervision and are expected to accomplish minimal training and often enter the legal fray directly after law school with minimal experience. This method of counsel upbringing genuinely compromises the quality of their services. Though this is not the case nationwide, it is nonetheless a fault in our judicial system (Citron).
Advocates for stronger public defender offices argue that...

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