The Supreme Court’s 1963 decision saying every person is entitled to an attorney whether or not he has the money to pay for one, unfortunately remains an unfunded mandate. There is no clear mechanism for funding public defense. As a result, there are people languishing in jail without lawyers, and people languishing in jail with lawyers who are over worked and under resourced and therefore unable to do what their clients need them to do, what the constitution needs them to do and what our society needs them to do.
Director of the Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center
and Professor of Law
In 2003, a non-unanimous jury voted 10-2 to convict Troy Rhodes of armed robbery and attempted second-degree murder based solely on the identification of the victim. With ineffective counsel, a bad identification by a heavily medicated victim and Louisiana’s divided jury rule, Troy didn’t stand a chance of receiving a fair trial. 15 years later in May of 2018, Troy’s conviction was overturned and he was released, giving him the ability to spend time with his wife, children and grandchildren while the District Attorney decides whether to retry the case. Pam Metzger told The Advocate, “The ability to have hope and faith and optimism and grace while you’re living under this cloud that says you will die in jail is such an extraordinary gift.”