A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

David Carroll, executive director of the Sixth Amendment Center, is seeking input from the criminal law practitioners for a study of indigent defense in Philadelphia.

Earlier this year, the City Councilperson Dennis O’Brien introduced a Charter amendment requiring City Council approval over contracts for indigent defense.  The amendment was adopted in the spring primary election.

The City Council requested the United States Department of Justice to provide technical assistance on indigent defense. The Department of Justice retained the Sixth Amendment Center to provide services to Philadelphia.

DJC headshot

David Carroll

“I was asked to help put together a blue print on how Philadelphia can best provide conflict defender services,” Carroll said. “I am interviewing stakeholders. I will be talking to defense providers, judges, prosecutors, policy makers, the City Administration and the City Council.”

Carroll would appreciate hearing from criminal law practitioners. His email address is david.carroll@sixthamendment.org.

“Time is of the essence,” Carroll said. “Both the City Council and the City Administration want to act quickly. The Department of Justice anticipates the work to be complete by the end of October.”

“There is no single shelf-model for Philadelphia, but whatever is developed should meet national standards and the American Bar Association’s Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery Systems (http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/legal_aid_indigent_defendants/ls_sclaid_def_tenprinciplesbooklet.authcheckdam.pdf)” Carroll said.

Carroll said that options used in other jurisdictions include:

(1) an assigned counsel model (Massachusetts)

(2) a staffed public defender (Colorado)

(3) a second defender office (Los Angeles)

“Pennsylvania is the only state which has never funded indigent defense services. The lack of funding puts a great burden on counties to provide constitutionally-adequate representation,” Carroll said.

The Sixth Amendment Center, with headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts, was founded in 2012.  Carroll described it as “a nonprofit organization providing technical assistance and evaluation services to criminal justice stakeholders and policy makers on the delivery of indigent defense services.”

Carroll, who is not a lawyer, has been doing this type of work for more than 18 years. He holds a master’s degree in ethics and social philosophy from Boston College.


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