Page 15 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
P. 15

 Introduction
This Committee was tasked to study one of the most fundamental of rights in America, the right of an accused person to legal counsel. Enshrined in the Constitution under the Sixth Amendment, the right to assistance of counsel is a pillar of our adversarial system of justice and our government. “If we are to keep our democracy,” Judge Learned Hand cautioned in 1951, “there must be one commandment: Thou shalt not ration justice.” He was speaking on the occasion
of the New York Legal Aid Society’s 75th Anniversary, yet it would be more than a decade before the Supreme Court’s 1963 landmark ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright, compelling states to provide counsel at government’s expense to criminal defen- dants who cannot afford to hire an attorney.1
The effort to make such a fundamental right real in practice — not to some, but to all — has been waged in the halls of justice by jurists committed to the letter of the law and the principles that underlie it. Their compelling legal arguments
are captured in a chain of court decisions before and after Gideon. These rulings emphasize that representation per se is not enough. Writing in MacKenna v. Ellis in 1960, for example, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stated that an accused person is entitled to “effective, wholehearted assistance of counsel and to the undivided loyalty” of his representative.”2 The Court deemed such skill, dedication, and inde- pendence to be “essential to due process.”3
Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. tasked this Committee with studying the current quality of public defense in federal courts nationwide pro- vided under the auspices of the Criminal Justice Act—groundbreaking legislation passed in 1963 and expanded in 1970. That the United States has a fully developed system of public defense at the federal level is evidence of considerable progress in making the Sixth Amendment right to counsel real in practice. But this Committee
1 Gideonv.Wainwright,372U.S.335(1963).
2 MacKennav.Ellis,280F.2d592,595(5thCir.1960),modified,289F.2d928(5thCir.1961). 3 Id.
The effort to
make such a fundamental right real in practice—not to some, but to all—has been waged in the halls of justice by jurists committed to the letter of the law and the principles that underlie it.
 No recommendation presented herein represents
the policy of the Judicial Conference of the United 2 0 1 7 R E P O R T O F T H E A D H O C C O M M I T T E E T O R E V I E W T H E C R I M I N A L J U S T I C E A C T xiii
States unless approved by the Conference itself.






















































































   13   14   15   16   17