Duquesne Law Review


Burton R. Laub


For upwards of twenty years, the Supreme Court of the United States has wrestled with the question whether an indigent defendant charged with serious crime must, on request, be afforded the assistance of counsel at public expense. In a series of landmark cases it has decided such assistance must be afforded as a matter of constitutional right. Most trial judges are in agreement with these decisions, not so much on constitutional grounds but because they see practical advantages therein, and because they would welcome an even broader rule requiring every party to a lawsuit to have full representation. While trial judges in those jurisdictions not having public defenders have some concern over the mechanics of supplying and paying for lawyers to assist indigents, they are in no panic about it, knowing that the organized bar and the state legislatures will undoubtedly solve many of their difficulties for them in the near future.

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