White v. Martz - Complaint

On February 14, 2002, the ACLU, its Montana affiliate, the New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, and local attorneys filed suit against the State of Montana and seven of its counties alleging that defendants had failed to adequately fund and supervise county indigent defense programs.  Specifically, the suit alleged that the state had abdicated its constitutional duty to ensure effective lawyers for the poor by delegating the design and administration of those programs to its counties, without sufficient funding or guidance. As a result of the lack of state oversight, county programs were plagued by a number of deficiencies, including: a virtual absence of adversarial advocacy; high attorney caseloads; the inability of lawyers to meaningfully confer with their clients or to develop a defense; lack of investigatory and expert services; excessive pleas bargaining and unnecessary pre-trial incarceration.  Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the suit which was denied. Discovery is on-going.

Related Documents

ACLU Press Release: ACLU Files Class-Action Lawsuit Against Montana's Indigent Defense Program

ACLU Fact Sheet:  White v. Martz: Montana Indigent Defense Fact Sheet

NACDL Ethics Advisory Committee Formal Opinion No. 03-01 (01/13/2003)

Court Papers

Memorandum and Opinion on Motions to Dismiss, 7/25/02

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