News

Arnold & Porter Obtains Favorable Settlement for Defendants Deprived of Right to Counsel in Civil Rights Lawsuit

April 28, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC, April 28, 2015 -- Arnold & Porter LLP and the Southern Center for Human Rights reached a settlement on April 20 in a civil rights challenge to the denial of counsel in the Cordele Judicial Circuit, Georgia, which will result in significant improvements in the representation provided to underprivileged children and adults in the four counties of the circuit. 

Among other enhancements, the settlement will result in a lawyer who is experienced in juvenile law and childhood and adolescent development representing the Cordele Circuit Public Defender’s juvenile clients, the addition of two public defenders and one investigator to the office’s staff, and every public defender attending annual training programs to stay on top of developments in criminal and juvenile defense.  The Consent Decree setting forth the settlement was filed in Fulton Superior Court on April 20, 2015. 

In January 2014, Arnold & Porter and the Southern Center for Human Rights filed N.P. v. State of Georgia on behalf of poor adults and children facing prosecution in the circuit’s superior and juvenile courts.  The Plaintiffs challenged the frequent absence of public defenders in juvenile court, the assembly-line processing of adults, and other problems resulting from the chronic underfunding and understaffing of the Cordele Circuit Public Defender office.

In March 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a Statement of Interest in N.P. reinforcing the due process right of children to effective, skilled counsel.

Arnold & Porter's legal team included David Gersch, Phillip Horton, Arthur Luk, Jessica Jones, Michael Kientzle, Kevin O’Doherty, Elizabeth Owens, and Tiana Russell.  Arnold & Porter represented Clarence Earl Gideon in the 1963 case that established the right to counsel for people who cannot afford a lawyer, and the Firm took on this case to mark the 50th anniversary of the Court’s landmark decision in Gideon.

Arnold & Porter LLP is an international law firm of nearly 800 lawyers with offices in Brussels, Denver, Houston London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Washington, DC.  The firm, founded in 1946, maintains more than 25 practice areas. spanning a broad spectrum of the law, with a primary focus on litigation, transactional matters, and regulatory issues.

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