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Archive February 2019

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Jeff Adachi: A Champion for Justice

I awoke on Saturday morning the 23rd of February to several emails telling me that Jeff Adachi, San Francisco’s superb elected Public Defender and a national figure of energy, passion, and vision, had died overnight at the age of 59. 

Reflections on Jeff Adachi, a Public Defender Hero

Late Friday night, I scrolled my twitter feed per usual to discover shocking news: San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi had died at the young age of 59.  In the several hours since that devastating discovery, I’ve read every tribute paid Jeff that I’ve seen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram while climbing out of my initially numb state to process and distill my thoughts about a public defender inspiration, visionary and leader lost without warning.  

Shoop v. Hill: Habeas courts must decide old intellectual disability claims based on Atkins, not Supreme Court 2017 opinion in Moore

Danny Hill was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1986.  In 2002 and again in 2010, Hill filed federal habeas petitions claiming that his death sentence violated Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), which held that the Eighth Amendment bars execution of persons with intellectual disability. 

Christi Comes Home After 25 Years in Prison

Christi is the fourth woman in Louisiana to come home after receiving a life-without-parole sentence as a child. At age 16, Christi pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for being with her abusive older boyfriend when he killed his elderly aunt. Her mandatory sentence was life without the possibility of parole; no matter what she did or who she became as an adult, Christi was condemned to die in prison.

At the Hands of Police

I’ve been a defense attorney for thirty-one years, twenty-six of them as a public defender, most recently with Cook County. I’ve seen hate and racism in our criminal justice system. I’ve seen my clients’ wrists bruised, with red rings caused by handcuffs squeezed too tight. I’ve seen black eyes, bruises to the chest, the back, the legs, the face. One of my clients had stitches in his head from when a Chicago detective hit him with rings on his finger. I’ve listened to my clients in case after case tell me how they were screamed at for hours, pushed around, beaten, prevented from using the bathroom, denied food, water, and medication. All at the hands of the police.

Judicial Abuse of Public Defenders

Public Defenders have been doing a good job of bringing attention to the horrible things that happen to our clients. I want to talk a bit about some of the horrible things that happen to us, as public defenders, because that matters to our clients, too.

One Lawyer, One Day, 194 Cases...

A few thoughts about this expose on the unfathomable caseloads carried by #publicdefenders across the country…

New York Deserves Acknowledgment in Workloads Reform

Recently (January 31 online, February 3 in print) the New York Times published a dramatic story about the national crisis of excessive public defense caseloads, entitled “One Lawyer, 194 Felony Cases, and No Time”.  The article depicted a reality that is depressingly accurate, and that makes a mockery of our nation’s commitment to due process of law, the principle of equal justice, and the Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel as forever honored in the famous case of Gideon v. Wainwright.

Opportunity to Help Clients

If you are looking for a simple way to help public defenders succeed for clients, take a look at The NAPD Fund for Justice. The NAPD Fund for Justice enhances the right to counsel and public defense in the United States. 

Electrifying Results of Defenders Uniting

Events in New York City this past week have shown the power public defenders wield when they work together and partner with local communities. Within days of each other, defenders united twice. They alerted the nation to the plight of inmates in a federal jail suffering without heat or electricity. They also protested a potentially unethical motion to quash a subpoena by a district attorney.
 

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