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Case Name Lewis v. Hollenbach PD-KY-0001
Docket / Court 08-CI-1094 ( State Court )
State/Territory Kentucky
Case Type(s) Indigent Defense
Case Summary
On June 30, 2008, the plaintiffs, a group of public defenders and similarly interested organizations, filed a petition for declaratory judgment in the Franklin County Circuit Court for Kentucky's failure to provide sufficient funding to the public defender system. The plaintiffs alleged that the ... read more >
On June 30, 2008, the plaintiffs, a group of public defenders and similarly interested organizations, filed a petition for declaratory judgment in the Franklin County Circuit Court for Kentucky's failure to provide sufficient funding to the public defender system. The plaintiffs alleged that the lack of funds would cause an insufficient number of attorneys to be available to staff cases, forcing attorneys to handle an unethical number of cases. The plaintiffs further alleged that the public defenders had too many cases under the Kentucky Rules of Professional Conduct, and that Kentucky's public defender system would run out of money in mid-2009.

The plaintiffs developed a "service reduction plan" that would reduce their caseload and
work within the system's meager funding limits. In order to implement the plan, the Plaintiffs sought three declarations from the court: that (1) Kentucky public defenders "may . . . legally decline to accept certain appointments to represent indigent criminal defendants," (2) indigent defendants who are declined by public defenders but still subject to prosecution must be appointed private defense counsel at the state's expense, and (3) that it is "legal and proper" for Kentucky courts to order the state of Kentucky to pay for the fees of any such private defense counsel.

The plaintiffs sought either to have the charges against current defendants without counsel dismissed, or for counsel to be paid out of funds from the Commonwealth's Treasury.

On January 15, 2009, expert witness and law professor Rodney J. Uphoff submitted an affidavit in support of the Plaintiffs explaining that public defenders in Kentucky were in an ethically untenable position.

The Commonwealth filed a motion to transfer the case to the Kentucky Supreme Court on March 17, 2009. The Supreme Court granted the motion.

On April 28, 2009, the state filed a motion to dismiss because the 2009 budget appropriations had been certified by the legislature to include enough funding to adequately support indigent defense, rendering the cause of action moot.

On May 13, 2009, the Kentucky Supreme Court granted the motion to dismiss. The case was closed.

Blase Kearney - 06/05/2012
Elena Malik - 05/17/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Funding
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) State of Kentucky
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are public defenders who have an over-abundance of cases under the Kentucky Code of Professional Conduct who are filing suit against Kentucky's General Assembly for not providing sufficient funding for the public defender system.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Unknown
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 06/30/2008
Case Closing Year 2009
Case Ongoing No
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 ]

Docket(s)
2009-SC-000164 (State Court of Appeals)
PD-KY-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/27/2009
Source: State Court Website
General Documents
Complaint
PD-KY-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date:
Notice to Judges of Service Reduction
PD-KY-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/28/2008
Affidavit of Rodney J. Uphoff
PD-KY-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/15/2009
Source: ABA Supreme Court Briefs
Motion to Dismiss
PD-KY-0001-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 04/29/2009
show all people docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Ames, Elizabeth Kenly (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
PD-KY-0001-9000
English, Charles E. (Kentucky) show/hide docs
PD-KY-0001-0001 | PD-KY-0001-9000
Fleischaker, Jon L. (Kentucky) show/hide docs
PD-KY-0001-0001 | PD-KY-0001-9000
Harrison, Jack B. (Ohio) show/hide docs
PD-KY-0001-9000
Renzelmann, Jason (Kentucky) show/hide docs
PD-KY-0001-0001
Rogers, Jeremy S. (Kentucky) show/hide docs
PD-KY-0001-0001 | PD-KY-0001-9000
Snyder, Sheryl G. (Kentucky) show/hide docs
PD-KY-0001-0001 | PD-KY-0001-9000
Wells, J. Kendrick IV (Kentucky) show/hide docs
PD-KY-0001-0001 | PD-KY-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Clark, Justin Drew (Kentucky) show/hide docs
PD-KY-0001-9000
Clark, Justin D. (Kentucky) show/hide docs
PD-KY-0001-0003
Hendrix, Laura H. (Kentucky) show/hide docs
PD-KY-0001-0003 | PD-KY-0001-9000
Lear, William M. (Kentucky) show/hide docs
PD-KY-0001-0003 | PD-KY-0001-9000
Thacker, Christopher L. (Kentucky) show/hide docs
PD-KY-0001-0003 | PD-KY-0001-9000

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