University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Gardner v. Luckey PD-FL-0003
Docket / Court No. 73-1777 (5th Cir.) ( M.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Indigent Defense
Case Summary
In 1973, indigent criminal defendants who had been separately convicted of Florida crimes filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida against the state public defender offices pursuant to state law and 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983. Plaintiffs were ... read more >
In 1973, indigent criminal defendants who had been separately convicted of Florida crimes filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida against the state public defender offices pursuant to state law and 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983. Plaintiffs were represented by private counsel. They alleged that the public defender's office failed to meet minimum constitutional standards of effective representation due to inadequate funding and excessive caseloads. The District Court dismissed the complaint on four grounds: (1) a Public Defender is not a state actor when he carries out his central function of representing indigents; (2) the class action was not maintainable because the deprivation of the right to effective assistance of counsel can only be proven by reference to particular instances; (3) there were adequate remedies at law; and (4) there was no case or controversy. Plaintiffs appealed.

On September 16, 1974 the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (Godbold, C.J.) affirmed the dismissal of the class action suit because it should not have been brought in federal court since the complaint did not allege that any of the named plaintiffs themselves were injured by the conduct of the public defenders.

Dayna Frenkel - 02/25/2009


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
General
Funding
Quality of representation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) State Public Defender Office
Plaintiff Description Indigent criminal defendants seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the Florida Public Defender Offices for failing to meet minimum constitutional standards in their representation.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 1974
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Indigent Defense Reform: The Role of Systemic Litigation in Operationalizing the Gideon Right to Counsel
Written: May. 07, 2007
By: Vidhya K. Reddy (Washington University in St. Louis)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel.
Written: Apr. 14, 2009
By: National Right to Counsel Committee (The Constitution Project)
Citation: National Right to Counsel Committee, Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel (2009)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Securing Reasonable Caseloads: Ethics and Law in Public Defense
By: Norman Lefstein (Indiana University--Indianapolis)
Citation: (ABA 2011)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The Third Generation of Indigent Defense Litigation
New York University Review of Law and Social Change
By: Cara Drinan (Columbus School of Law, Catholic University)
Citation: 33 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 427 (2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Opinion 09/16/1974 (500 F.2d 712)
PD-FL-0003-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Denial of Cert 10/06/1975 (423 U.S. 841)
PD-FL-0003-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges None on record
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Johnson, Tomothy A. Jr. (Florida)
PD-FL-0003-0002
Zewadski, William K. (Florida)
PD-FL-0003-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Harrison, Baya III (Florida)
PD-FL-0003-0002
Shevin, Robert L. (Florida)
PD-FL-0003-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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