EVERYONE DESERVES THE BEST DEFENSE
THIS AWARD WINNING FILM TAKES AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE PROBLEMS
WITH OUR CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM FROM THE PERSPECTIVE
OF THREE YOUNG PUBLIC DEFENDERS.
In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision
in Gideon v. Wainwright
MONDAY, APRIL 1, 2013
SLC DOWNTOWN CITY LIBRARY AUDITORIUM
FREE FILM SCREENING
FOLLOWED BY A PANEL DISCUSSION EXPLORING THE STATE OF
INDIGENT DEFENSE IN UTAH
Moderated by Jesse Nix, President, Utah Minority Bar Association
Judge John Baxter, Salt Lake City Justice Court
Emily Chiang, Professor of Constitutional Law, S. J. Quinney School of Law at the University of Utah
John Mejia, Legal Director, ACLU of Utah
Cliff Venable, Attorney, Salt Lake Legal Defenders Association
CLE Approval Pending
|ACLU of Utah||Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers||Utah Minority Bar Association|
We are excited to co-sponsor this event in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision inGideon v. Wainwright concluding that state governments have an obligation under the United States Constitution to provide lawyers to people charged with a crime who cannot afford to hire their own. Despite that clear decision, and despite the Court’s extension of the right to counsel for juvenile delinquency cases and to misdemeanor cases where imprisonment results, states across the country continue to fail to fulfill Gideon’s promise.
Tragically, Utah ranks behind almost all other states in its provision of indigent defense. The state provides no funding for indigent defense, shifting the burden to the counties. Each county is charged by statute to provide indigent defense as it sees fit. Accordingly, a patchwork of models exists across the state. In 2011, the ACLU of Utah issued a report detailing the failings of Utah’s systems: “Failing Gideon: Utah’s Flawed County-By-County Public Defender System.” We are encouraged that there is a growing understanding of the problems plaguing Utah’s indigent defense system and the need to reform it.
ACLU OpEd Highlights Need For Utah Criminal Justice Reform
Posted 3/18/13 - In an opinion piece published in the Salt Lake Tribune on 3/17/13, ACLU of Utah Executive Director Karen McCreary, and Legal Director John Mejia explain our concerns, "For several years now we have been ringing the alarm bell that Utah is failing to fulfill Gideon’s promise to its people. Utah is one of only two states where there is no direct state funding, oversight or other assistance for public defense. Instead, Utah places an unfunded mandate on counties to provide indigent defense. We thus have a patchwork of 29 different methods of providing defense, with varying funding and operational standards." Read the entire piece "Our right to a lawyer" (PDF) >>