This year marks the 50th anniversary of the seminal case Gideon v. Wainwright, which ruled that state courts must provide counsel for parties that cannot afford them. It represented a major turning point in the practice of law and individual’s rights in the United States. It is hard to believe that there existed a recent time when public defense was not considered a basic right in a civilized country founded on the ideal of justice for all.
In support of these efforts and in conjunction with the BBA’s Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts, the BBA held a half-day conference entitled Examining the Civil Right to Counsel on the 50thAnniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright. The event featured keynote speakerNew York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman. Judge Lippman, who established The Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York, the model for our own Statewide Task Force, also sat down with the members of the BBA’s Statewide Task Force before the half-day conference. He has been a leader in successfully securing additional funding for civil legal aid in New York.
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