Koch Supports Report Calling for Reforms to Indiana’s Public Defense Services

October 24, 2016

Mark Holden, general counsel and senior vice president for Koch Industries, offered a statement of support on behalf of the company for a new Sixth Amendment Center report released today that examines the effectiveness of Indiana’s public defense services and makes recommendations for improvement. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) commissioned this report as a part of its public defense reform program.

“The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Supreme Court’s seminal decision in Gideon v. Wainwright require that any citizen accused of a crime has the right to effective assistance of counsel in a court of law, regardless of one’s ability to pay. In fact, over 80 percent of those accused of crime in America rely upon public defense systems to provide representation. Evidence is mounting, however, that our nation is not fulfilling its constitutional obligations due to a lack of financial resources at the state and local levels and an overburdened system. The challenges in Indiana are no different. In fact, the findings of this report reveal that the need for change in the Hoosier state is most dire, despite the best efforts of those involved.

“Among the report’s conclusions is the revelation that ‘the State of Indiana’s ability to monitor county indigent defense systems is entirely absent or severely limited, depending on the type of case.’ Moreover, the adequacy of public defense services as actually provided are severely lacking. For example, one key finding revealed that some counties in Indiana encourage defendants to negotiate directly with prosecutors before being appointed counsel and even accept uncounseled pleas at initial hearings. This is not what our constitution intends.

“Thankfully, the report provides a clear set of five recommendations the State of Indiana can implement to make the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of an individual's right to counsel a reality for all in the Hoosier state, especially the least advantaged.

“At Koch, we unconditionally support the Bill of Rights, which is the blueprint for our free society, as well as the rule of law. As a result, we have supported NACDL for more than a decade because the Sixth Amendment specifically identifies criminal defense lawyers as a right and necessity for individuals accused of crimes. In 2014, Koch provided a significant grant to NACDL with two goals in mind: One, significantly expand access to training through an ambitious combination of scholarship support for public defenders, web-based training via the Internet, and targeted on-site training for public defense providers who lack adequate resources to provide comprehensive continuing education for line attorneys and supervisors. Two, examine state level public defense delivery systems in order to ascertain strengths that can be replicated elsewhere, as well as weaknesses, and the ways in which they can be rectified.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with NACDL in the years ahead as they work to bring much needed change to public defense systems across the country.”