CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Defense reform needed for poor

A recent Supreme Court panel's declaration that the criminal defense offered to Nevada's poor is in crisis, along with its order for new standards to improve the system, has sent prosecutors, public defenders, county officials and others scrambling to assess the level of justice the indigent receive and offer solutions to protect tight budgets and constitutional rights

Facing a July 15 deadline for new performance standards that could cost Washoe County millions to implement, the players have conflicting views on what should happen next.

Prosecutors want the standards to be used as guidelines, not mandates, while the American Civil Liberties Union wants them strictly enforced. Public defenders want more financial support, while county officials want the process stalled so they can ask the Legislature to help with funding.

Meanwhile, the chair of the Indigent Defense Commission, Nevada Supreme Court Justice Michael Cherry, wants the process to go forward -- citing a news story last week about an inmate in Texas who was released after 27 years in prison when DNA evidence proved his innocence. [Mark Godsey]

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