Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How long should a state be allowed to keep a defendant jailed w/out trial bec it can't afford to provide legal representation to indigent defendants

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports today (here) that in a case argued yesterday before the Georgia Supreme Court a defendant argued the charges against him should be dismissed (or, at least, that the state should not be allowed to seek the death penalty) because he has been in jail for nearly four years without a trial in violation of his right to a speedy trial. Why has this defendant been held in custody for so long without a trial, you ask? Because the state cannot afford to pay for the man's representation. In other words, the defendant has a right to get the state to provide representation, but the state has no money to do it, so the defendant sits in jail without a trial.

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