Brief of Amicus Curiae The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Support of Contemnor-Appellant.
Argument: The Circuit Court's application of the Illinois rules deprives indigent clients of their fundamental right to conflict-free counsel solely on the basis of financial status in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the federal and state Constitutions. The right to conflict-free counsel is a fundamental constitutional right. Fundamental constitutional rights may not be denied bases on an inability to pay. The failure to apply similar conflict of interest standards to clients of privately retained attorneys and clients of the Cook County Public Defender's office deprives the Public Defender's clients of their fundamental right to conflict-free counsel. African-American and Latino individuals are likely to bear the brunt of the constitutional violation at issue here.
Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioner (On Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois).
Argument: The Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling subverts indigent defendants’ fundamental rights to conflict-free counsel, while misunderstanding the practical realities facing public defenders’ offices. This Court has consistently declared that fundamental constitutional rights may not be abridged based on an inability to pay. The Illinois Supreme Court’s carve-out of public defenders from ethical rules applicable to private law firms deprives indigent defendants of their fundamental rights to conflict-free counsel. The practicalities of working in public defenders’ offices demand equally exacting standards as those governing private law firms. The resources of public defenders’ offices nationwide are stretched thin by staggering caseloads. The practical realities of working in public defenders’ offices promote cooperation and collaboration, not an “adversary tendency.”