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house Bill H.R. 5124

Should States That Fail to Provide the Poor With Effective Legal Counsel Need to Face Class Action Lawsuits?

Argument in favor

The Constitution entitles all defendants in criminal cases the right to legal counsel, and if state or local governments are failing in that responsibility they should face class action lawsuits in federal court.

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10/22/2016
The poor deserve the exact same treatment in a court of law as anyone else.
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Gary's Opinion
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10/22/2016
Funny how we have to pass laws that are duplicates of Constitutional precepts. How dense are some of these states, anyway?
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Luke's Opinion
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10/23/2016
It is unethical and should be criminal to deliberately set another person up for failure.
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Argument opposed

There are better ways to address the challenges faced by public defenders at the state and local level than letting the governments supporting those attorneys face class action lawsuits in federal court.

Loraki's Opinion
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10/22/2016
I would like to know how many illegal aliens would benefit from this bill. How much have they contributed to the heavy caseloads of public defenders?
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Mark's Opinion
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10/22/2016
I actually agree that this is an issue. However, simply suing counties isn't the answer. I'd like to see a bill with this mechanism as well as addresses the fact that funding for public defenders is woefully short. We need funding that is specifically for funding public defenders. If funding is appropriate and appropriate defense is not being provided than yes, class action is totally appropriate at that point.
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Jerry's Opinion
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10/22/2016
There is nothing that I can find that says you have the right to effective counsel whatever that is. Amendment V No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. Amendment VI In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense
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    The poor deserve the exact same treatment in a court of law as anyone else.
    Like (45)
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    I would like to know how many illegal aliens would benefit from this bill. How much have they contributed to the heavy caseloads of public defenders?
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    This is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. I can see others' reservations to not provide counsel for illegal immigrants, which is understandable and I can cede that. I also see the concern that this would be a money-making scheme for lawyers, but if a state does provide the resources appropriately then there should be no issues. In all, I'm always in favor of legislation that helps solidify the rights we're already guaranteed as citizens. Imagine: What if it was you who couldn't afford a lawyer?
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    Funny how we have to pass laws that are duplicates of Constitutional precepts. How dense are some of these states, anyway?
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    It is unethical and should be criminal to deliberately set another person up for failure.
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    It is in the bill of rights that all people have the right to a fair trial before a jury of their peers. With the legal system being as complex as it is, the supreme court ruled that includes the right to an attorney. However, there are hundreds of examples of overworked and underpaid public defenders best summarized by John Oliver's segment on the issue of public defenders. A public defender should have time to spend with a case before beginning a trial and if that's not the case in a state, they should be punished for violating the law.
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    I actually agree that this is an issue. However, simply suing counties isn't the answer. I'd like to see a bill with this mechanism as well as addresses the fact that funding for public defenders is woefully short. We need funding that is specifically for funding public defenders. If funding is appropriate and appropriate defense is not being provided than yes, class action is totally appropriate at that point.
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    Because I live in the South, this seems like a good idea. I cannot imagine anything short of a threat of personal legal consequences that would budge my state officials from persecuting black & brown citizens. Discrimination has been baked into the system & rationalized by sanctimonious Christians for generations. A frontal assault is needed to move us into a semblance of 21st century justice.
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    No money. Surely there is some sucker lawyer who will pay (pro bono) for a lawsuit. If the lawyer wins the case, what a great guy. If he fails, good try. Bet that will slow those phony cases to pad some legal pockets. Still looks like a method that the DOJ can use to pressure the state in doing the Federal Government business./bidding. Just another example of government corruption with a smiley face.
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    There is nothing that I can find that says you have the right to effective counsel whatever that is. Amendment V No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. Amendment VI In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense
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    The right to legal representation is absolutely necessary to insure that the constitutional rights of the poor are not trampled.
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    The key phrase here "effective legal counsel". Unfortunately public defenders are poorly paid and overburdened.
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    States that fail to follow the US Constitution should face consequences for their action (or lack).
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    This constitutional right is being undermined in some states. These states deserve to be dragged into court over this.
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    The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution gives citizens of the United States the right "to have the Assistance of Counsel for [their] defense." The Fourteenth Amendment states "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." This bill allows the federal government to sue states for not providing effective counsel to citizens, which is a sensible inference of these amendments.
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    This is one of our explicitly enumerated rights according to the US Constitution. The states are explicitly obligated to provide legal defense for their citizens of they cannot afford it. It is part of the social contract that defines our society. So if states cannot uphold their end of the bargain, their citizens should be entitled to seek remuneration in other ways. Class action sounds like an appropriate approach to me.
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    Time to stop the war on the poor and start fighting poverty.
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    One must define legally what an effective legal council means and what criteria it should meet. Unless this is done, the bill is useless.
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    Counties and cities where this occurs should be held accountable as well. People of color and the poor seldom receive adequate court appointed counsel. Some municipalities even have kick backs for funneling people in to the prison and probation profit model.
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    It's a right. And one that is never given
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