Gideon at 50 Rationing Justice: The Underfunding of Assigned Counsel Systems

Vermont has one of the lowest compensation rates in the nation ($50) for attorneys assigned to represent indigent defendants facing serious criminal charges in Vermont courts. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers released a report last year documenting the unreasonably low rates of compensation paid to private attorneys who represent indigent defendants in state courts. The result of the underfunding in Vermont is an inadequate, inexperienced, and overworked pool of attorneys accepting court appointments. Vermont has an obligation to provide an indigent accused with an attorney because the federal and state constitutions guarantee the right to “Assistance of Counsel for his defense.” Denying the right to effective assistance of counsel leads to wrongful convictions, ill advised plea bargains, unjust punishments, increased prison populations with increased costs to taxpayers, unnecessary appeals, and petitions for post-conviction relief claiming ineffective assistance of counsel.

Gideon at 50 – Part 1 Rationing Justice