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NACDL urges all states and U.S. territories to adopt such constitutional provisions, laws or regulations necessary to guarantee that every accused person, irrespective of financial capacity to engage counsel, shall be guaranteed counsel at the first appearance before a judicial officer at which liberty is at stake or at which a plea of guilty to any criminal charge may be entered. ............
Amicus curiae brief of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Public Interest Law Section of the Florida Bar, University of Miami School of Law Center for Ethics and Public Service, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Brennan Center for Justice, and the Constitution Project in support of petitioner.
Argument: The petitioner and assistant public defenders for the 11th Judicial Circuit have shown that their excessive caseloads imminently threaten not only to create conflicts of interest but also to deprive current and former indigent clients of constitutionally-effective assistance of counsel and are therefore entitled to limit further representations without waiting for those threats to materialize; extensive evidence presented in the trial court establishes both ongoing violations of the Sixth Amendment rights of petitioner’s clients and an unacceptable risk of future violations; the intermediate court of appeal improperly limited the scope of the Sixth Amendment as it applies to systemic deficiencies.
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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers deems that where warranted by the jurisdictional population needs and caseload, a proper public defense delivery system should comprise institutional offices of full-time attorney staff as well as meaningful participation of private attorneys with equal access to training and resources necessary to provide effective criminal defense.