Is Mississippi’s New Rule to Provide Everyone With an Attorney Failing?

A Mississippi Supreme Court Justice is alleging that a rule directing judges in Mississippi to ensure that poor criminal defendants always have a lawyer as they wait to be indicted is not being widely followed, reports Caleb Bedillion for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal and The Marshall Project via ProPublica. When the rule went into effect in July, many courts were unprepared to comply. Some local court officials were unaware of it. Others suggested that their practice of appointing lawyers for limited purposes would satisfy the rule, even though those attorneys do little beyond attending early court hearings. In one circuit court district that did take action in response to the Supreme Court’s rule, there are signs that appointed defense attorneys are not doing much more than they did before. Meanwhile, doubters claim that the problems have been exaggerated by reform advocates.

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