RESOLUTION OF THE PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION IN SUPPORT OF SB 979, LEGISLATION THAT ESTABLISHES A PENNSYLVANIA CENTER FOR EFFECTIVE INDIGENT DEFENSE LEGAL REPRESENTATION
WHEREAS, fifty years ago the United States Supreme Court handed down Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963), the case which declared that any adult arrested for a crime has a Constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel, free of charge, pursuant to the sixth and fourteenth amendments.
WHEREAS, Gideon's mandate for effective assistance of counsel has since been extended to include juveniles in delinquency proceedings, direct appeals, misdemeanor offenses, and other critical stages of prosecution.1
WHEREAS, Pennsylvania is the only state that does not provide statewide funding for indigent defense.2
WHEREAS, in December of 2011, the Task Force and Advisory Committee on Services to Indigent Criminal Defendants, part of the bi-partisan Joint State Government Commission, concluded that, "Pennsylvania fails to meet its constitutional duty to provide effective legal defense for indigent defendants in criminal cases," and that, "(l)ack of state support has undermined the effectiveness of indigent defense in much of Pennsylvania."3
WHEREAS, that same report concluded that "to have a system that meets the constitutional demands of basic justice," Pennsylvania "must strive to develop and implement" the Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System developed and adopted by the American Bar Association (hereinafter "ABA Ten Principles").4
WHEREAS, emblematic of its longstanding support for increasing access to justice for all, in 2011 the Philadelphia Bar Association also passed a resolution adopting and endorsing the ABA Ten Principles.5
WHEREAS, the ABA ten principles call for "state funding and a statewide structure responsible for ensuring uniform quality statewide" of indigent defense, for training commensurate with the complexity of any criminal defense casework, and for parity of resources among prosecutors and public defenders.6
WHEREAS, the Pennsylvania District Attorney's Association receives statewide funding, set forth by law, which it uses, in part, to train prosecutors across the Commonwealth.7
WHEREAS, SB 979 would create and initially fund a Center for Effective Indigent Defense Legal Representation (hereinafter, "the Center"), primarily charged with providing statewide training for public defenders and other criminal defense attorneys appointed to represent indigent defendants.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association supports Senate Bill 979, Printers No. 1136, and any similar legislation establishing and funding the Pennsylvania Center for Effective Indigent Defense Legal Representation; as well as ongoing statewide funding for the Center; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chancellor and/or the Chancellor's designee(s) are authorized to communicate the Philadelphia Bar Association's position on Senate Bill 979, Printer's No. 1136, and any similar legislation to the Governor, the General Assembly, the media and the public and to take such other action as necessary to effectuate this resolution.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: JUNE 27, 2013
1In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967); Douglas v. California, 372 U.S. 353 (1963); Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U.S.25 (1972); U.S. v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218 (1970); Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1967); Coleman v. Alabama, 399 U.S. 1 (1970).
2The Spangenberg Project, The Center for Justice, Law and Society at George Mason University, State, County and Local Expenditures for Indigent Defense Services Fiscal Year 2008 at 2, 5, 55, 74-76, Appx. 10 (November 2010).
3Task Force and Advisory Committee on Services to Indigent Criminal Defendants. A Constitutional Default: Services to Indigent Criminal Defendants in Pennsylvania. December, 2011. Available at: http://jsg.legis.state.pa.us/resources/documents/ftp/publications/2011-265-Indigent%20Defense.pdf
4Id at 6.
5See Resolution of the Philadelphia Bar Association Adopting and Endorsing the American Bar Association's Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System, available at: http://www.philabar.org/page/ResJune11_2?appNum=2.
6American Bar Association, Standing Committee of the Criminal Justice Section on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants, Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System. February, 2002. See principles 2, 6, and 8.