March 26, 2020

Public Defense News

Here is the public defense news for March 20-26, 2020:

Resource Collections:

Coronavirus Tracker: How justice systems are responding in each state

National Juvenile Defender Center: COVID-19 Resources

CDC: Interim Guidance on Management of COVID-19 in Correctional and Detention Facilities

Brennan Center: Court’s responses to the COVID-19 crisis


Judges must consider defendant’s ability to pay fines and fees, ethics opinion says

New ABA Ethics Opinion 490: Ethical Obligations of Judges in Collecting Legal Financial Obligations and Other Debts

As the coronavirus spreads, some in criminal justice system resist call to keep people out of jail

Coronavirus transforming jails across the country

DOJ seeks new emergency powers amid coronavirus pandemic

How the coronavirus is upending the criminal justice system

Prosecutors, defense attorneys press to release inmates, drop charges and thin jail population in response to the coronavirus


Firing of MontCo public defenders draws lawsuits from attorneys, ACLU

Despite risk of spreading virus, judges continue to impose cash bail in Pennsylvania

Attorneys seek inmates’ release (Blair County)


Minnesota public defender ‘gratified’ after reinstatement

Hennepin County chief public defender is issues written reprimand, allowed to return to post

New Jersey:

Former Plainfield public defender awarded $500K over gender discrimination

NJ Supreme Court orders low-risk county inmates released to limit coronavirus spread

Up to 1,000 inmates in New Jersey ordered released


New law ensures criminal defendants have equal access to public defender across Indiana


Embattled Cleveland Judge Pinkey Carr called public defender ‘little idiot’ after he asked to tell his clients not to come to court amid coronavirus pandemic, video shows


Opinion: Because of the coronavirus, I can’t do my job as a public defender in Seattle – and my clients are suffering

Washington Supreme Court issues order regarding court operations during COVID-19 public health emergency

Jail population drops as justice is postponed by COVID-19 (Snohmish County)

Emergency order postpones criminal hearings across Washington due to coronavirus, expedites release of some jail inmates

A local public defender isolates himself from his family at home to keep serving his clients in court


As coronavirus spreads in US jails, San Francisco’s public defender demands early release

Alameda County public defender wins release of more than 300 prisoners

District attorney Jackie Lacey directs deputy district attorneys to help reduce jail population during pandemic (Los Angeles)

Sylmar courthouse closed after public defender tests positive for coronavirus (Los Angeles)


As courts shut down, one city’s public defenders try to save their clients from the virus (Tulsa)

DOC stops accepting newly sentenced state prisoners

New York:

New York to release 300 nonviolent Rikers inmates amid pandemic

A Rikers Island doctor speaks out to save her elderly patients from the coronavirus

Coronavirus cases in NYC jails jump to 52 inmates, 30 staffers

Opinion: Don’t put more people in New York’s jails during pandemic

Opinion: Clemency is needed for incarcerated New Yorkers vulnerable to coronavirus


Public defender wants to keep COVID-19 out of jails

Public defender’s office prioritizes getting people out of county jail before COVID-19 hits


Judges to decide if ‘vulnerable’ inmates can be released from Cook County jail

Illinois County public defender calls for emergency release of detainees


Colorado’s justice system is still catching up to coronavirus

Colorado Springs public defender tests positive for COVID-19


Chief justice pleads for Kentucky inmate releases ahead of COVID-19, but progress slow

Midlands public defenders push for detainees release amid jail coronavirus worries


Inmate releases due to coronavirus considered by state attorneys

Mosby, medical professionals ramp up calls for Maryland to release elderly and low-risk prisoners to stem coronavirus


Iowa’s prisons will accelerate release of approved inmates to mitigate COVID-19


Courts ponder the release of low-risk inmates in an effort to block the spread of COVID-19 to the prison system


Families, advocates ask Alabama to release at-risk inmates amid COVID-19 outbreak


OR’s fed public defender seeks release of 72-yr-old inmate with health problems, citing threat of coronavirus


Prosecutors, public defenders adapt to COVID-19 constraints


Paul Jancha Jr. takes over as Berrien’s chief public defender

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