Rights of the Indigent

Years ago, in the much heralded case of Gideon v. Wainwright, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the United States Constitution entitles every person accused of a serious crime to a lawyer. If the defendant can't afford his or her own counsel, the state must appoint an attorney to assist that defendant. The promise of Gideon-that the advocacy a defendant receives will not depend upon the defendant's wealth-routinely goes unfulfilled. Indigent, criminally accused persons typically are represented by public defenders burdened with crushing caseloads and lack essential resources for investigation and expert assistance. The Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center is committed to pursuing litigation to address this injustice.