Betschart v. State of Oregon Amicus Brief

Document Date: January 5, 2024

The district court’s undisputed factual findings show that over two thousand Petitioners throughout Oregon are not able to assert their right to fair criminal proceedings because they are unrepresented by counsel for weeks or months after arraignment. Because Petitioners do not have counsel to preserve evidence, argue for release, or negotiate plea deals during this period, they are at risk of suffering irreversible prejudice in plea bargaining and at trial. These facts are sufficient to demonstrate a violation of the Sixth Amendment, which requires competent counsel at any stage of prosecution that carries the potential for irreversible prejudice.

The State’s response to this argument focuses almost exclusively on the district court’s seven-day remedial order, conflating the merits of the Sixth Amendment claim with the proper remedy. The State also asserts that Younger abstention forecloses federal court review, an argument that ignores the crux of Petitioners’ claims: state court criminal proceedings are not adequate to timely vindicate Petitioners’ right to counsel.

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