Gideon at 50 Event

Posted On January 10, 2013
Categories News, News Briefs Tags

The State Of Indigent Defense In Georgia

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held states must provide counsel for criminal defendants who cannot afford an attorney. To commemorate this landmark case, three panelists who have played an important role in ensuring Gideon‘s legacy will reflect on the case’s impact and the state of indigent defense in Georgia.


Stephen B. Bright, president and senior counsel of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, teaches at the law schools at Yale and the University of Georgia. Subjects of his litigation, teaching and writing include legal representation for poor people accused of crimes, capital punishment, human rights violations in prisons and jails, and judicial independence. He has argued capital cases before juries and before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Fulton County Daily Report named him “Newsmaker of the Year” in 2003 for his contribution to the creation of a public defender system in Georgia. He received the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award in 1998.

Norman S. Fletcher, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, is of counsel with Brinson, Askew, Berry, Seigler, Richardson & Davis LLP in Rome, Ga. He was appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court in 1989 and served as chief justice from 2001 to 2005. During his tenure as chief justice, he was instrumental in the creation of Georgia’s statewide public defender system. Fletcher has more than 47 years of experience as a trial lawyer, counselor, government attorney and general practitioner. While in private practice, he represented Georgia as a special assistant attorney general and served as city attorney for LaFayette and county attorney for Walker County.

Jonathan Rapping, president and founder of the Southern Public Defender Training Center, is an associate professor of law and the director of the Honors Program in Criminal Justice at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. He founded the Southern Public Defender Training Center to provide training and support for public defender offices throughout the South. He was the first training director for the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, where he developed its Honors Program to recruit, train and support young public defenders throughout the state. He also has served as training director for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia and as chief of training for the Orleans Public Defenders.

Lauren Sudeall Lucasassistant professor of law and moderator, focuses her research on the intersection of constitutional law and criminal procedure and has written several articles about indigent defense reform. Lucas clerked for Judge Stephen Reinhardt on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and for Justice John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court. Before coming to Georgia State, she worked at the Southern Center for Human Rights, representing indigent capital clients in Georgia and Alabama and litigating civil claims asserting violations of the right to counsel.


Sponsored by American Constitution Society, Georgia State University and Georgia Lawyer Chapters; co-sponsored by Public Interest Law Association.


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