We have, once again, found wonderful sponsors for our bills to fund trial court public defense services. Rep. Chapman is the prime sponsor for HB 1086 and Sen. Braun is the prime sponsor for the companion bill, SB 5098.
In 1963 the Supreme Court held in Gideon v. Wainwright that the provision of Sixth Amendment lawyers for indigent people is a state obligation under the Fourteenth Amendment. And while the Supreme Court has not directly considered whether it is unconstitutional for a state to delegate its constitutional responsibility to its counties and cities, the state must still guarantee that local governments are not only capable of providing adequate representation, but that they are in fact doing so.
The funding responsibility is put back on the state with HB 1086 and SB 5098 by requiring the state, beginning in 2020, to appropriate at least 10% per year for trial court public defense services until funding reaches 100%.
Last year we had a successful hearing on a similar bill (HB 2687 (2018) Rep. Frame) in Rep. Jinkins’ House Judiciary Committee. Currently, HB 1086 is scheduled for public hearing in Rep. Jinkin’s Committee – The House Committee on Civil Rights & Judiciary at 8:00 AM on January 16th. You can find the committee meeting materials here. The Senate Bill, SB 5098 has been referred to the Law & Justice Committee which is chaired by Senator Pederson from the 43rd Legislative District.