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ACLU of Utah Calls for Action on Utah’s Failing Indigent Defense System

26 August 2015 Published in Newsroom

IDP YesOn6 croppedThe ACLU of Utah will launch its “YES ON SIX” campaign this Thursday, Aug. 27 at 10:00 a.m.  In 2011, the ACLU documented the inadequacies of Utah’s indigent system in a report called “Failing Gideon."

ACLU of Utah marks 4th Anniversary of Report on Utah’s Failing Indigent Defense System with Call for Action

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25, 2015

The ACLU of Utah will launch its “YES ON SIX” campaign this Thursday, Aug. 27 at 10:00 a.m.  In 2011, the ACLU documented the inadequacies of Utah’s public defense system in a report called “Failing Gideon: Utah’s Flawed County-by-County System Public Defender System.”  Since that time there have been no substantive improvements to the system.

“YES ON SIX” aims to push Utah to fulfill its Sixth Amendment obligation to provide effective legal counsel to all defendants facing loss of liberty, regardless of their wealth. The campaign will focus on educating Utahns about this critical issue and advocating for immediate legislative remedies, while preserving future opportunities for legal action. 

WHAT: “Failing Gideon” Fourth Anniversary & “YES ON SIX” Launch Event

WHERE: ACLU of Utah office (355 N. 300 W. in Salt Lake City)

WHO:

  • Karen McCreary, Executive Director
  • John Mejia, Legal Director
  • Barbara Munoz, Community Action Partnership of Utah, Policy Analyst
  • Marina Lowe, Legislative & Policy Counsel
  • Anna Brower, Strategic Communications Manager 

 

WHEN: Press event will run 10:00 to 10:25 with time for questions 

When the ACLU of Utah and partners at the University of Utah’s SJ Quinney College of Law published “Failing Gideon” four years ago this week, the report gave Utah’s system of indigent defense a failing grade. The ACLU of Utah pointed out at the time that the State, not the counties, holds ultimate responsibility for ensuring a constitutionally adequate system.

Four years later, our state government has made no substantive efforts to improve Utah’s public defense system.  In fact, Utah remains one of only two states that provides no funding or oversight to assist counties in providing indigent defense; rather, counties are left on their own with no guidance, practical assistance or financial resources from the state.  

YES ON SIX is an integrated advocacy campaign that will engage the general public, policymakers and criminal justice reform partners in finding a substantive legislative remedy to our failing indigent defense system during the 2016 Legislative Session.  Several states have recently passed laws involving indigent defense, and we are confident that we can find a solution that meets Utah’s unique issues and needs.  

Recent legal action in Idaho over its indigent defense problems highlights the importance of both creating and implementing a system that truly works.  While the focus of YES ON SIX is voluntary policy change now, the ACLU of Utah remains committed to ensuring an effective system by any and all effective means moving forward.

We invite local media representatives to join us on August 27 to learn more about YES ON SIX. 

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More information about the report "Failing Gideon: Utah’s Flawed County-By-County Public Defender System”