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Bucking Conventional Wisdom: The Montana Public Defender Act

Jessa Desimone
The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1973-)
Vol. 96, No. 4 (Summer, 2006), pp. 1479-1507
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40042814
Page Count: 29
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Bucking Conventional Wisdom: The Montana Public Defender Act
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Abstract

Since Gideon v. Wainwright, the United States Supreme Court has held that indigent defendants have a constitutional right to legal representation in state felony prosecutions. Forty years after Gideon, many indigent defense systems are in a state of crisis. Therefore, this Comment will examine one state's complete overhaul of its indigent defense system from a disparate, locally controlled system to a statewide system based on nationally recognized standards of indigent defense. By examining the factors that led the Montana legislature to pass a Public Defender Act, this Comment will shed light on ways activists concerned with indigent defense should use their limited resources. It will show that while litigation alone is not enough to bring transformative change, litigation can be the catalyst for change.

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