University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Van Slyke v. State PD-MS-0004
Docket / Court 00-0013-GN-D ( State Court )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) Indigent Defense
Case Summary
Plaintiff, J.B. Van Slyke, was Forrest County's only public defender. Represented by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and private law firms, Plaintiff filed suit against Forrest County and the State of Mississippi in 1999. That suit, filed in the Chancery Court of Forrest County, alleged that ... read more >
Plaintiff, J.B. Van Slyke, was Forrest County's only public defender. Represented by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and private law firms, Plaintiff filed suit against Forrest County and the State of Mississippi in 1999. That suit, filed in the Chancery Court of Forrest County, alleged that inadequate public funding left Plaintiff unable to fulfill his duties as public defender.

Also in 1999, three similar suits were filed against the state by counties seeking to force the State to contribute to the cost of indigent defense. These cases appear in our database as Quitman County v. State of Mississippi (PD-MS-0001), Jefferson County v. State (PD-MS-0002), and Noxubee County v. State (PD-MS-0003).

The Van Slyke, Jefferson County, and Noxubee County cases were all held in abeyance pending the outcome of the first appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court in Quitman County v. State of Mississippi. See State v. Quitman County, 807 So.2d 401, 402 n.1 (Miss. 2001). In 2001, the Mississippi Supreme Court resolved that first appeal by holding that Quitman County stated a sufficient cause of action to justify a trial. State v. Quitman County, 807 So.2d 401, 410 (Miss. 2001).

Van Slyke v. State was voluntarily dismissed in 2001 after Plaintiff, Van Slyke, resigned as public defender. Because we have no docket or other court documents, we are unsure whether the Van Slyke case was dismissed before or after the Mississippi Supreme Court's authorization of a trial in the Quitman County case.

The information for this summary was acquired primarily from a report by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund entitled Assembly Line Justice: Mississippi's Indigent Defense Crisis. This document appears in our database as PD-MS-0004-0001. Also relevant was the information located in State v. Quitman County, 807 So.2d 401, 402 n.1 (Miss. 2001).

We have no further information on Van Slyke v. State.

Vidhya Reddy - 02/04/2008


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Causes of Action
Defendant(s) Forrest County
State of Mississippi
Plaintiff Description J.B. Van Slyke was Forrest County's only public defender who sued the County in 1999 alleging that inadequate public funding left him unable to fulfill his duties as public defender.
Class action status outcome Unknown
Filed Pro Se Unknown
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Unknown
Filed 2000
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PD-MS-0001 : Quitman County v. State of Mississippi (State Court)
PD-MS-0002 : Jefferson County v. State (State Court)
PD-MS-0003 : Noxubee County v. State (State Court)
Additional Resources
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  Securing Reasonable Caseloads: Ethics and Law in Public Defense
Date: 2011
By: Norman Lefstein (Indiana University--Indianapolis Faculty)
Citation: (ABA 2011)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel.
Date: 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 ]

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

  Indigent Defense Reform: The Role of Systemic Litigation in Operationalizing the Gideon Right to Counsel
Date: May 7, 2007
By: Vidhya K. Reddy (Washington University in St. Louis Law Student)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

Court Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
not recorded
02/01/2003
Assembly Line Justice: Mississippi's Indigent Defense Crisis [NAACP Legal Defense Fund Report]
PD-MS-0004-0001.pdf | Detail

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