NLADA joined with the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, National Association for Public Defense, and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, to file an amicus brief last week in Christeson v. Roper, No. 16-2730, urging the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis to overturn a federal district court’s arbitrary denial of funding that has resulted in deprivation of meaningful assistance of counsel for a mentally impaired death row inmate. This case highlights the challenges faced by defenders in upholding the right to counsel.
The issue of constructive denial of counsel, argued in Christeson v. Roper, argues whether someone is represented by a true advocate or a just “warm body.” NLADA's mission advocates for excellence in legal services, not merely the presence of a lawyer. We also recognize that investigation and mitigation are essential aspects of defense representation – especially in a case like this, where the stakes are so high and the defendant is particularly unable to advocate for himself. NLADA also understands that defense counsel cannot possibly meet professional and ethical standards without adequate funding, which was denied in Christenson v Roper.
Read the filed amicus HERE