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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by Marc Lee

Suit Challenges Inadequate PD Funding

By Marc Lee

Many lawsuits have been filed throughout this country addressing the problems in indigent defense programs. Although many of these lawsuits have been successful in showing the inadequacies in the indigent defense programs, for the most part they have been unsuccessful in obtaining relief. On May 12, 1994, prisoners at Arizona State Prison in Florence filed a class-action lawsuit which has taken a different approach to the problem (Ernst v. Symington, U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, Dist. Ct. No. CIV 94-0953-PHX-SMM (MM)). The defendants in the lawsuit are Fife Symington, Governor of Arizona, the Attorney General of Arizona, and the Boards of Supervisors for Pima and Maricopa Counties.

Instead of attacking excessive caseloads and workloads of indigent defense attorneys or the quality of indigent representation, as the other lawsuits have done, Ernst is attacking only the lack of funding and resources to indigent defense programs. This lack of funding and resources is so serious in Arizona that the indigent defense programs have no choice but to provide constitutionally inadequate representation to the vast majority of defendants. Few defendants are chosen to have their cases properly investigated, researched or prepared. This has resulted in many ...


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