Why embattled public defenders ‘welcome’ lawsuits against them
The Christian Science Monitor - 01/21/2016
On the surface the ACLU is suing the OPD, and the LPDB, for violating its constitutional mandate. But looking at similar lawsuits in the past – including some filed by the ACLU – the OPD may end up benefiting from the action, says Daniel Medwed, a law professor at Northeastern University.
“It’s a lawsuit against the public defenders office in name only,” he says. “The real target is the state, or the funding stream.”
The tactic goes back decades, and has been effective. In 1995 the ACLU filed a similar lawsuit in Connecticut, and four years later a settlement led to “significant improvements” in the state’s chronically underfunded defense system, the organization said, including increased funding, hiring more attorneys, new caseload goals, and a new training program.