Federal Court Rules Criminals Without Lawyers Must Be Released

(FeaturedHeadlines.com) The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that defendants in Oregon jails who are imprisoned for seven days without any legal representation should be immediately released.

According to the 2-1 verdict of the appeals court, the Oregon criminal justice system is a “sixth amendment nightmare.” The sixth amendment allows criminal defendants the right to a lawyer.

Justice John Owens wrote that the Oregon government was violating the 1963 verdict of the US Supreme Court in the Gideon v. Wainwright case, where all states were directed to provide legal counsel to defendants who could not afford their own representation.

However, Justice Patrick Bumatay penned down a dissenting opinion and slammed his colleagues for backing an extremist solution and paving the path for a “judicial jailbreak.”

The state is currently facing a shortage of public attorneys and needs almost 500 lawyers to carry out its legal obligations.

Almost 3,200 defendants in Oregon have no access to any lawyer, and 146 of them are currently jailed.

The Oregon state government is trying different methods to tackle the rising attorney crisis to provide legal protections to the defendants.

The Oregon Public Defense Commission, which is an independent organization and comes under the judicial branch, will start working under the executive government and will take directions from the governor’s office from next year, a move which many believe can reduce its staffing crisis.

Last year, ten defendants in Washington County filed a petition for not having a state attorney at a time when they were charged with crimes. In return, the US District Court Judge Michale McShane acknowledged the crisis and directed the state to release all such defendants. McShane accused the state government of breaching the constitution for not protecting the rights of the defendants. The decision was later challenged in the appeals court, which has now upheld the verdict.

Meanwhile Oregon’s Federal Public Defender, Fidel Cassino-DuCloux, praised the verdict, stating that the court decision will save many innocent people who are charged with crimes and have no access to any attorney.

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