April is Public Defense Month
2013 is the 50th anniversary of the landmark decision Gideon v. Wainwright, in which the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that state courts are required under the 14th Amendment to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants who are unable to afford to pay their own attorneys, extending the identical requirement made on the federal government under the Sixth Amendment. In recognition of this milestone, Gov. Inslee declared April 2013 Public Defense Month.
- On April 30, the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Washington State Supreme Court, and UW School of Law will present a reenactment of the oral arguments in Gideon. The presentation is free and open to the public. Learn more about this event.
- 50 years after Gideon, WSBA member Ada K. Wong wonders if the right to counsel should be expanded.
- Do you know an outstanding public defense attorney? Consider nominating them for a WSBA Annual Award. Nominations are due April 30.
Public defenders, we want to hear from you! What inspired you to take this career path? What are the rewards and challenges of working in the public defense sector? And what are the public-defense issues facing Washington now? Tell us about it in the comments, or submit a blog post.