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April 10, 2023

ABA summit addresses key issues in public defense 60 years after Gideon

CHICAGO, April 10, 2023 State and national experts from throughout the country will convene virtually on Thursday and Friday to explore current and emerging issues on public defense, including topics related to the effectiveness of the right to counsel 60 years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Gideon v. Wainwright.

2023 Public Defense Summit
Sponsored by ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense (SCLAID)

Thursday-Friday, April 13-14


The summit will focus on ensuring manageable workloads, protecting public defender independence and other challenges spotlighted the past few years by American Bar Association workload studies in a half dozen states. It comes six decades after the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the Gideon case that the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment's guarantee of a right to assistance of counsel applies to criminal defendants in state court by way of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Rachel Rossi, director of the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Access to Justice, will open the summit on Thursday at 11:45 a.m. EDT with welcoming remarks. Other programs will focus on use of empirical research to limit caseloads; indigent defender independence in federal court; remedial measures to ensure political independence; client perspectives on defender services; special challenges faced by rural defenders; and limitations and advantages of video conferencing.

Sessions will be held both Thursday and Friday afternoons. The agenda is here, and the list of speaker is here.

Media are invited to attend virtually but must register in advance by 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday, April 12, by emailing Bill Choyke at [email protected]. Links to the program will be sent on Thursday morning.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.