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A04161
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE RESOLUTION
No.
619
Session of
2019
INTRODUCED BY McCLINTON, A. DAVIS, D. MILLER, MURT, HOHENSTEIN,
FREEMAN, HILL-EVANS, WARREN, ROEBUCK, GALLOWAY AND OTTEN,
NOVEMBER 22, 2019
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY, NOVEMBER 22, 2019
A RESOLUTION
Directing the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to
conduct a study to collect and organize data regarding
historic funding and caseloads relating to indigent criminal
defense in this Commonwealth during the most recent three
years for which data is available.
WHEREAS, The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the
United States states, in part:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the
right . . . to have the Assistance of Counsel for his
defense[;];
and
WHEREAS, In the landmark case of Gideon v. Wainwright, 372
U.S. 335 (1963), the United States Supreme Court ruled that free
counsel for criminal defendants who cannot afford to hire an
attorney is mandated upon the states by the Sixth Amendment of
the Constitution of the United States; and
WHEREAS, The United States Supreme Court subsequently
clarified that the guarantees described in Gideon include
misdemeanor prosecutions that could result in a term of
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imprisonment, juvenile delinquency proceedings and all critical
proceedings subsequent to arrest; and
WHEREAS, The Constitution of Pennsylvania also guarantees to
indigent criminal defendants a right to counsel; and
WHEREAS, Since 1776, the Constitution of Pennsylvania has
provided that:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused hath a right to
be heard by himself and his counsel[;];
and
WHEREAS, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provides indigent
criminal defendant representation through a variety of means,
including a county-based public defender system, court-appointed
counsel, conflict counsel, pro bono representation and others;
and
WHEREAS, The Public Defender Act, the act of December 2, 1968
(P.L.1144, No.358), mandates that:
In each county except the County of Philadelphia, there
shall be a public defender, appointed as herein provided.
Two or more counties may cooperate in the appointment of
a public defender, as provided in the intergovernmental
cooperation provisions of the Constitution of
Pennsylvania or as provided by law[;];
and
WHEREAS, The Public Defender Act further provides that:
In lieu of, or in addition to assistant public defenders,
the public defender may arrange for and make use of the
services of attorneys at law admitted to practice before
the Supreme and Superior Courts of this Commonwealth and
the court of common pleas of the county or counties in
which they may serve, when such attorneys volunteer to
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act as assistants, without compensation, to enable him to
carry out the duties of his office[;];
and
WHEREAS, In 2011, the Joint State Government Commission
issued a report of the Task Force and Advisory Committee on
Services to Indigent Criminal Defendants in which the Joint
State Government Commission concluded that the "[l]ack of
systematic and complete data hampers analysis and evaluation of
our [indigent defense system]"; and
WHEREAS, Funding for the criminal justice system in
Pennsylvania, including indigent criminal defense, is primarily
county-based; and
WHEREAS, The interests of justice and therefore of all
Pennsylvanians are best served when Pennsylvania's indigent
criminal defense system operates in an effective and ethical
manner, responsibly using sufficient funding to zealously
represent its clients; therefore be it
RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives direct the
Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study to
collect and organize data regarding historic funding and
caseloads relating to indigent criminal defense in the
Commonwealth during the most recent three years for which data
is available; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the study shall determine the sources of
funding and size of caseloads for indigent criminal defense in
each county, including where data is available:
(1) county-based public defenders;
(2) Federal public defenders appearing in State court;
(3) court-appointed counsel, including conflict counsel;
(4) private representation provided pro bono or at
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reduced rates; and
(5) any other source of indigent criminal defense
representation that the committee determines to be
informative;
and be it further
RESOLVED, That the study shall determine the amount of
funding available and caseloads for indigent criminal defense
supported by each source of funding in each county annually,
including the rates paid to court-appointed counsel; and be it
further
RESOLVED, That the study shall determine the number of
attorneys supported by each source of funding in each county
annually and appearing on behalf of indigent criminal
defendants, including the number of public defenders, both full-
time and part-time; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the study shall determine each county's
caseload for indigent criminal defense supported by each source
of funding in each county annually by category, including where
data is available:
(1) capital murders;
(2) homicides;
(3) felonies;
(4) misdemeanors; and
(5) such other categories that the Committee determines
to be informative;
and be it further
RESOLVED, That the study shall determine each county's
caseload for indigent criminal defense supported by each source
of funding in each county annually by category, including where
data is available:
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(1) jury trial;
(2) bench trial; and
(3) other disposition;
and be it further
RESOLVED, That, upon completion of the study, the Legislative
Budget and Finance Committee shall submit a report on the
results of the study within 30 days to the Governor, the
Judiciary Committee of the Senate and the Judiciary Committee of
the House of Representatives; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the study shall be completed by November 30,
2020 unless extended by a resolution in a subsequent session.
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