The following was posted by David Carroll of the Sixth Amendment Center. Click here to go to website.
Pleading the Sixth: A class action lawsuit pending before a federal court in Seattle, Washington, alleges the cities of Mt. Vernon and Burlington systematically deprive defendants facing criminal prosecution in the cities’ municipal courts of the right to the effective assistance of counsel. While the judge presiding considers the merits of the allegations presented at trial, the U.S. Department of Justice has joined the case with a Statement of Interest calling for an “independent monitor” to ensure the cities’ compliance with any court order. Further, “should any remedies be warranted,” the United States’ express position is that the remedy should include workload controls for public defense providers “to ensure quality representation.” The 6AC examines the larger implications of DOJ’s recent efforts to enforce the constitutional right to counsel at the state and local levels.