Policy

Effective Assistance of Counsel Resolution (2005)

Short Name: Effective Assistance of Counsel Resolution
Year Adopted: 2005
Meeting Where Adopted: Annual
Policy Number: 2005 AM 107
Subjects: Death Penalty, Affective Assistance of Counsel, Indigent Defense Systems, Counsel Compensation

Resolution Text:

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges that the following steps be taken to fulfill the constitutional guarantee of effective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment as prescribed in decisions of the United State Supreme Court:

  1. State, territorial and local governments should provide increased funding for the delivery of indigent defense services in criminal and juvenile delinquency proceedings at a level that ensures the provision of uniform, quality legal representation. The funding for indigent defense should be in parity with funding for the prosecution function, assuming that prosecutors are funded and supported adequately in all respects;
  2. State, territorial and local governments should establish oversight organizations that ensure the delivery of independent, uniform, quality indigent defense representation in all criminal and juvenile delinquency proceedings; and
  3. The federal government should provide substantial financial support to the states and territories for the provision of indigent defense services in state criminal and juvenile delinquency proceedings;
  4. Attorneys and defense programs should discontinue indigent defense representation, and/or decline to accept new cases for representation, when, in the exercise of their best professional judgment, workloads are so excessive that representation will interfere with the rendering of quality legal representation or lead to the breach of constitutional or professional obligations;
  5. Judges should, consistent with state and territorial rules and canons of professional and judicial ethics:

    a. fully respect the independence of defense lawyers who represent the indigent;

    b. take appropriate action with regard to defense lawyers who violate ethical duties to their clients;

    c. take appropriate action with regard to prosecutors who seek to obtain waivers of counsel and guilty pleas from unrepresented accused persons, or who otherwise give legal advice to such persons, other than the advice to secure counsel;

    d. never attempt to encourage persons to waive their right to counsel, and accept no such waivers unless they are knowing, voluntary, intelligent, and on the record;
  6. State, territorial and local bar associations should be actively involved in evaluating and monitoring criminal and juvenile delinquency proceedings to ensure that defense counsel is provided in all cases to which the right to counsel attaches and that independent and quality representation is furnished;
  7. Community organizations and individual citizens should become involved in efforts to reform indigent defense systems.

View the full resolution and report.