Publication Spotlight: Mary Sue Backus

June 28, 2018
Mary Sue Backus

“The Right to Counsel in Criminal Cases: Still a National Crisis?,” an article co-authored by OU Law Professor Mary Sue Backus and William and Mary Law School Professor Paul Marcus, is slated for fall publication in Volume 86 of the George Washington Law Review.

The article revisits a piece Backus and Marcus wrote a decade ago about the crisis in indigent defense. It was part of the 2017 George Washington Law Review Symposium, “The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society: 50 Years Later.”

The full article will be published this fall. For now, here’s the article abstract:

In 1963, Gideon v. Wainwright dramatically changed the landscape of criminal justice with its mandate that poor criminal defendants are entitled to legal representation.  As scholars and practitioners have noted repeatedly over more than 50 years, states have generally failed to provide the equal access Gideon promised. This article revisits the questions raised by the authors over a decade ago when they asserted that a genuine national crisis exists regarding the right to counsel in criminal cases for poor people. Sadly, despite a few isolated instances where litigation has sparked some progress, the issues remain the same: persistent underfunding and crushing caseloads, with little support from the Supreme Court to remedy ineffective assistance claims, means that our patchwork system of public defense for the poor remains disturbingly dysfunctional.

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