February 06, 2014 Articles

Lawsuit Demands an End to Assembly-Line Justice in South Georgia

A recent suit reminds us that the constitutional guarantee of effective legal representation remains illusory for many who cannot afford a lawyer.

By Atteeyah Hollie – February 6, 2014

On the heels of the fiftieth anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963), establishing the right to counsel for poor people accused of crimes, and over 40 years after the Supreme Court recognized that “an obsession for speedy dispositions, regardless of the fairness of the result” resulted in “assembly line justice” does not satisfy the right to counsel, Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U.S. 25, 34, 36 (1972), a suit filed last month reminds us that the constitutional guarantee of effective legal representation remains illusory for many who cannot afford a lawyer.

On January 7, 2014, eight adults and children filed N.P. ex rel. Darden v. State of Georgia, a civil-rights lawsuit challenging the frequent absence of public defenders in juvenile court and the assembly-line processing of adults in the superior courts of the four-county Cordele Judicial Circuit located in south Georgia.

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