The Right to Counsel


Many years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the right to legal counsel for the criminally accused was fundamental. State courts across the United States handle approximately 95 percent of total criminal cases in the nation. Among those, about four out of every five cannot afford to hire a lawyer to defend them. This means that 80 percent of the criminally accused in the United States are dependent on court-appointed counsel. Due to the high demand, public defenders are taking on caseloads much too high. Many states do not even have a public defender system, or rather, the major problem is that poor defendants are looked down upon. In some states, a majority of the criminally accused appear in court without attorneys to represent them. Another major problem is that inexperienced and unskilled lawyers are handling extremely critical cases- including death penalty cases.

To view the entire story, visit The New York Times article.