Gideon's Broken Promise

Gideon's Broken Promise: America's Continuing Quest For Equal Justice a Report on the American Bar Association's Hearings on the Right to Counsel in Criminal Proceedings

During the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Gideon v. Wainwright (which established the right to counsel in state court proceedings for indigents accused of serious crimes), the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants held a series of public hearings to examine whether Gideon's promise is being kept.

Throughout 2003, extensive testimony was received from expert witnesses familiar with the delivery of indigent defense services in 22 states representing a wide cross-section of regions, populations, and delivery systems. This comprehensive report represents the culmination of a painstaking analysis of hundreds of pages of testimony compiled from the hearings, leading to the inescapable conclusion that, forty years after Gideon, the promise of equal justice for the poor remains unfulfilled in this country.

Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)


Primary Indigent Defense Delivery System at Trial Level *

* SOURCE: The Spangenberg Group ("primary indigent defense delivery system" refers to the program appointed in more than 50% of the state's indigent defense cases at the trial level).

Each state below links to a short PDF summary of testimony regarding that state's indigent defense problems, reform efforts, and model approaches.

AL | CA | GA | IL | IN | LA | MD | MA | MI | MS | MT | NE | NV | NM | NY | OR | PA | RI | SD | TX | VA | WA

Click here for the report's Online Media Kit.