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Justices uphold PD conflict rule

High court says "promise of Gideon" requires outside counsel for indigent co-defendants, regardless of cost

, Daily Report

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The Georgia Supreme Court has barred public defenders in the same regional circuit from representing more than one defendant in a particular case, saying constitutional rights to conflict-free representation are more important than their costs to the government. Travis Sakrison (above), who heads the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, said he was concerned by the Supreme Court's comparison of PD circuits to private law firms.

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What's being said

  • In its ruling, the Georgia Supreme Court, under the guise of fulfilling the promise of Gideon v. Wainwright, has dealt a serious setback to the zealous and uncompromised legal representation of indigent defendants by unselfish, overworked, and underpaid public defenders who are dedicated to the ideal and mission of providing unquestioned loyalty and defense to those accused facing the task of defending themselves against the enormous power of the State without assets to wage that battle.

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