Conyers Delivers Keynote Address Commending Work of Gideon’s Promise
(DETROIT) – This evening, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) gave the keynote address at an event in Detroit honoring the work of Gideon’s Promise, an organization working to recruit and train public defenders. The event comes on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright, in which the Court held that state courts are required to provide an attorney for defendants in criminal cases who are unable to afford legal counsel. Following his participation in the event, Rep. Conyers issued this statement:
“It is an honor to recognize the work of Gideon’s Promise in bolstering public defenders and reforming indigent defense in troubled regions throughout the country. I am particularly proud to participate in the events of this evening as we continue to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright,
"Fifty years after Gideon, our country still falls short of what the constitution requires. Our justice system faces the great need of providing counsel to indigent defendants, and public defenders in our country handle excessive caseloads. Unfortunately, Michigan ranks 44th out of 50 states in public defense funding. In addition, the budgetary sequester spending cuts of almost $60 million to federal public defenders endanger defendants’ constitutional right to counsel. These shortcomings and cuts are severe, and would do lasting damage to the promises inherent in Gideon v. Wainright.
“Issues abound concerning our public defender system, yet meaningful reform is being made possible through the work of organizations like Gideon’s Promise. In addition, legislative initiatives to create indigent defense commissions, as well as our work in the House Judiciary Committee to address overcriminalization, can go a long way towards living up to the ideals embodied in the Gideon decision.”