Structural Challenges to Indigent Defense Systems
J.D. Practicum 1092
| 4 credit hours
The persistent underfunding of indigent defense systems in the United States throughout the past 50 years has been well documented in countless studies. According to recently promulgated American Bar Association Guidelines, public defenders can no longer accept unreasonable caseloads. Litigation is now pending in the Florida and Missouri Supreme Courts seeking to enforce these new ABA Guidelines. Professor Stephen Hanlon, has challenged unconstitutional indigent defense systems around the country for the past 15 years and currently represents the Missouri Public Defender in the challenge to that indigent defense system.
Professor Hanlon will conduct a seminar with 12 students who will work in four teams of three students each. After a thorough grounding in the law of indigent defense litigation, the professor and the 12 students will work together to respond to a decision by the Missouri Supreme Court (State ex rel Missouri Public Defender Commission v. Waters) upholding the right and duty of the Missouri Public Defender to refuse additional cases when its caseload exceeded a certain number of cases. Although the Missouri Public Defender put on detailed evidence about the metrics it used to determine when it had too many cases, the lower court did not directly rule on the reliability of those metrics. The Missouri Supreme Court held that the rule that the public defender promulgated, which utilized those metrics, was in effect and presumptively valid and invited prosecutors to challenge the validity of the rule -- and the metrics -- by instituting a declaratory judgment action. The practicum component of the class will focus on that litigation. The Missouri Public Defender also will develop and promulgate a new (improved) rule and protocol, and the practicum will work with them in that effort.
Prerequisites: Students must complete the required first-year program prior to enrolling in this course (part-time and interdivisional transfer students may enroll prior to completing Property, or their first-year elective). Prior or concurrent enrollment in Criminal Justice (or the equivalent Democracy and Coercion) or Criminal Procedure is required.
Students may not concurrently enroll in this practicum course and a clinic (except Street Law) or another practicum course. Students may concurrently enroll in this practicum course and an externship.
THIS IS A PRACTICUM COURSE.
This is a 4 credit course. 2 credits will be awarded for the 2-hour weekly seminar and 2 credits for approximately 10 hours of supervised work per week, for a minimum of 11 weeks. Both the seminar portion and the supervised work will be graded.
Students who enroll in this course will be automatically enrolled in both the seminar and practicum components and may not take either component separately. A student wishing to withdraw from the course will be withdrawn from both the seminar and field work components.
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