Capital cases are entering what one judge calls uncharted territory, faced with determining whether an accused killer is entitled to court-appointed counsel of his choice or must be represented by a lawyer certified to defend death penalty cases.
Despite working on Indiana public defense reforms for 41 years, there are still goals Larry Landis wishes he could have accomplished before his impending retirement from the Indiana Public Defender Council. In a perfect world, Landis said his career would have led to more judicial sentencing discretion, a greater focus on mental health treatment, and a justice system that values restoration over punishment.
A task force that is studying the provision of indigent criminal defense services in Indiana will soon travel the state to gather public input on how those services can be improved. The Task Force on Public Defense announced Wednesday it is launching a statewide listening tour to seek public comment on the inefficiencies in Indiana’s public defense services.
When a court accepts a fixed-sentence plea agreement, prosecutors and defenders alike say the long-standing practice has been for courts to uphold the exact terms of that sentence, absent an agreement between the parties. A recent Indiana Court of Appeals ruling, however, has seemingly put an end to that practice, leading to both a legislative and judicial review of the sentencing issue.
On the heels of criticism from a national organization and multiple lawsuits challenging Indiana’s public defender system, Indiana lawmakers and legal stakeholders are beginning to review the state’s public defense mechanisms to identify strategies for improvement.
Former 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John Tinder is stepping into a new role as chair of an effort designed to assess the current state of Indiana’s public defender system.
As the number of children in need of services cases continues to rise, public defenders across Indiana are stretching themselves to be able to offer competent representation while also serving as many clients as possible. Defenders are likewise feeling a strain on their misdemeanor caseloads.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana’s First Wednesday discussion on Aug. 3 is “POLICE: Use of Force – Crossing the Threshold.”