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Case Name Wilbur v. City of Mount Vernon PD-WA-0002
Docket / Court 2:11-cv-01100-RSL ( W.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Indigent Defense
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On June 10, 2011, three indigent persons charged with crimes filed a class action lawsuit in Skagit County Superior Court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Mount Vernon and the City of Burlington. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and the ACLU, asked the court to enjoin the ... read more >
On June 10, 2011, three indigent persons charged with crimes filed a class action lawsuit in Skagit County Superior Court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Mount Vernon and the City of Burlington. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and the ACLU, asked the court to enjoin the cities from violating the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments claiming that the cities failed to provide adequate assistance of counsel. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the cities have failed to impose reasonable caseload limits on public defenders, have failed to monitor and oversee the public defense system, have failed to provide adequate funds for public defense, and have failed to provide representation at all critical stages of prosecution.

The Cities have jointly contracted with two attorneys to handle all public defense assistance cases, and each attorney handled over 1,000 cases per year even though such a caseload is three times the maximum allowable amount for a full-time public defender pursuant to standards established by the Washington State Bar Association. The cities have not established any system for ensuring that the attorneys investigate cases, prepare for trial, or communicate timely and adequately with clients.

On July 5, 2011, the defendant municipalities removed the case to federal court, where it was assigned to Judge Robert S. Lasnik, of the U.S. District Court Western District of Washington. On February 23, 2012, Judge Lasnik granted the plaintiff's motion for class certification.

On December 4, 2013, Judge Lasnik found the plaintiffs established a systematic deprivation of their right to counsel and the Cities' responsibility for the deprivation. The Court granted injunctive relief (1) requiring that the cities re-evaluate their contract for the provision of public defense services to insure that indigent criminal defendants are provided the actual assistance of counsel; and (2) requiring the cities to hire one part-time public defense supervisor to supervise and evaluate the provision of legal services. The Court also granted attorney's fees. 989 F.Supp.2d 1122 (2013).

Lori Arakaki - 09/24/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Assistance of counsel (6th Amendment)
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Reporting
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Quality of representation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of Burlington
City of Mount Vernon
Plaintiff Description Indigent criminal defendants in Mount Vernon and Burlington
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing Yes
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)
2:11-cv-01100-RSL (W.D. Wash.) 04/22/2014
PD-WA-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [PACER] 06/10/2011
PD-WA-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint 11/10/2011
PD-WA-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction 02/23/2012 (W.D. Wash.)
PD-WA-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Certifying Class 02/23/2012 (W.D. Wash.)
PD-WA-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motions for Summary Judgment 04/25/2013 (W.D. Wash.)
PD-WA-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Statement of Interest of the United States 08/14/2013
PD-WA-0002-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Decision 12/04/2013 (989 F.Supp.2d 1122) (W.D. Wash.)
PD-WA-0002-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Awarding Fees and Costs 04/15/2014 (W.D. Wash.)
PD-WA-0002-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Lasnik, Robert S. (W.D. Wash.)
PD-WA-0002-0003 | PD-WA-0002-0004 | PD-WA-0002-0005 | PD-WA-0002-0006 | PD-WA-0002-0007 | PD-WA-0002-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Dunne, Sarah A. (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-0002 | PD-WA-0002-9000
Fisher, J. Camille (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-9000
Marshall, Toby James (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-0001 | PD-WA-0002-0002 | PD-WA-0002-9000
Murray, Jennifer Rust (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-0001 | PD-WA-0002-9000
Roos, Breena M. (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-9000
Scott, Darrell (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-0001 | PD-WA-0002-0002 | PD-WA-0002-9000
Talner, Nancy Lynn (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-9000
Terrell, Beth E (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-0001 | PD-WA-0002-9000
Williams, James F (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-0002 | PD-WA-0002-9000
Zuchetto, Matthew J (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-0001 | PD-WA-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Augenthaler, Brian Christopher (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-9000
Cooley, Andrew G. (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-9000
Culumber, Jeremy W (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-9000
Rogerson, Kevin Lee (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-9000
Rosenberg, Adam (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-9000
Thomas, Scott Glen (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-9000
Other Lawyers Austin, Roy L. (District of Columbia)
PD-WA-0002-0008 | PD-WA-0002-9000
Gayle, Winsome (District of Columbia)
PD-WA-0002-0008 | PD-WA-0002-9000
Gipe, Anthony David (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-9000
Heid, Daniel B. (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-9000
Killebrew, Paul (District of Columbia)
PD-WA-0002-0008 | PD-WA-0002-9000
Kupers, Lawrence B. (District of Columbia)
PD-WA-0002-0008 | PD-WA-0002-9000
Leff, Deborah (District of Columbia)
PD-WA-0002-0008 | PD-WA-0002-9000
Murphy, John W. (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-9000
Preston, Judith C. (District of Columbia)
PD-WA-0002-0008 | PD-WA-0002-9000
Samuels, Jocelyn (District of Columbia)
PD-WA-0002-0008 | PD-WA-0002-9000
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)
PD-WA-0002-0008 | PD-WA-0002-9000
Sybrandy, Richard M. (Washington)
PD-WA-0002-9000

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