6AC & PJI release issue paper on early appointment of counsel

March 25, 2014


Jon Mosher


Pleading The Sixth


The Pretrial Justice Institute and the Sixth Amendment Center jointly release a new report, Early Appointment of Counsel: The Law, Implementation, and Benefits, that concludes that the justice goals of the criminal court systems will be best served where every indigent defendant has appointed counsel from the earliest moment that the indigent defense system learns the defendant is being investigated, has received a summons to appear, is arrested, or has a charging document filed against him.

“The fear of government tyranny unduly taking a person’s liberty led the U.S. Supreme Court to unanimously declared it to be an ‘obvious truth’ that the indigent accused cannot receive a fair trial against the machinery of law enforcement unless a lawyer is provided to him at no cost,” explained Sixth Amendment Center Executive Director, David Carroll. “However,” he continued, “what remains an open question in the minds of many state and local policymakers is the precise moment in a criminal prosecution when counsel must be appointed. We wrote this report in part to explain governments’ duties in this regard.”

The Pretrial Justice Institute’s Incoming Executive Director, Cherise Fanno Burdeen further explained, “This important resource lays out clearly the reasons why counsel should be appointed at the earliest stages of criminal proceedings. The Pretrial Justice Institute supports pretrial systems that are safe, fair and effective and this report describes why early appointment of counsel is crucial to those aims.”

The Pretrial Justice Institute is a nonprofit organization that works toward safe, fair and effective pretrial justice by promoting reforms in arrest, bail and diversion decision-making. PJI aims for data-driven and informed policies across juvenile and adult pretrial justice systems to diversify outcomes influenced by demographics. PJI only supports pretrial detention in cases where defendants are a threat to community safety or demonstrate failure to appear in court.