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Case Name Tucker v. State of Idaho PD-ID-0001
Docket / Court CV-OC-2015-10240 ( State Court )
State/Territory Idaho
Case Type(s) Indigent Defense
Special Collection DOJ Civil Rights Division Statements of Interest
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On June 17, 2015, this class action was filed in Idaho's District Court of the Fourth Judicial District against the State of Idaho, Idaho Governor C.L. Otter, and seven Public Defense Commission (PDC) members. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU and private counsel, proceeded under 42 U.S.C. §1 ... read more >
On June 17, 2015, this class action was filed in Idaho's District Court of the Fourth Judicial District against the State of Idaho, Idaho Governor C.L. Otter, and seven Public Defense Commission (PDC) members. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU and private counsel, proceeded under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and state law, and alleged violation of their Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment right to adequate legal counsel, a right also guaranteed under the Idaho Constitution (Art. 1 §13). The suit claimed that Idaho maintained an unconstitutional public defender system wherein thousands enter a defective criminal justice system that is overburdened and underresourced. In particular, plaintiffs claimed that they had to go before a judge for bail hearings, and even enter pleas of guilty and be sentenced, all without a lawyer present; they often faced bail amounts too high for them to pay.

The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief which would require the state to obtain court approval of “a plan to develop and implement a statewide system of public defense that is consistent with the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution and laws of the State of Idaho,” including systems to ensure uniform standards related to attorney workload, performance, and training.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss shortly after the complaint was filed and on January 20, 2016, Judge Samuel A. Hoagland dismissed the case, finding that the defendants were protected by sovereign immunity and that justiciability doctrines (standing, ripeness, and separation of powers) barred the claim. The plaintiffs appealed on January 25, 2016 to the Idaho Supreme Court. On May 12, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an amicus brief supporting the plaintiffs and recommending that the Idaho Supreme Court reverse the district court's dismissal because the ruling "has deprived indigent defendants in Idaho" of an essential tool to enforce their constitutional rights.

On April 28, 2017, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed the dismissal as to the state of Idaho and the PDC, but affirmed as to the Governor. In particular, the Court found that the plaintiffs had standing, their claims were ripe, and that their requested relief would not implicate the separation of powers doctrine. The Court stated that the right to counsel was not entrusted to any particular branch of government and just because three branches may collaborate when deciding how to ensure a public defender system is constitutional does not itself implicate a separation of powers issue. 394 P.3d 54.

The Idaho Supreme Court remanded the case and did not award attorney fees or costs on appeal because the merits of the claim still needed to be addressed. As of June 2, 2017 the case is still ongoing.

Abigail DeHart - 06/02/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Assistance of counsel (6th Amendment)
Due Process
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Bail
Confidentiality
Conflict of interest
Fines/Fees
Funding
Juveniles
Quality of representation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) Idaho State Public Defense Commission
State of Idaho
Plaintiff Description Four named indigent defendants and others similarly situated who have not received constitutionally adequate counsel in the state of Idaho.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Securing Reasonable Caseloads: Ethics and Law in Public Defense
Date: 2011
By: Norman Lefstein (Indiana University--Indianapolis)
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)
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)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  Remick v. Utah (2016)
By: ACLU of Utah
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
CV-OC-2015-10240 (State Trial Court)
PD-ID-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/24/2016
Source: State Court Website
General Documents
Class Action Complaint
PD-ID-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/17/2015
Order Granting Motion to Dismiss
PD-ID-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/20/2016
Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae Supporting Plaintiffs-Appellants
PD-ID-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/12/2016
Source: ACLU
Opinion (394 P.3d 54)
PD-ID-0001-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/28/2017
Source: State Court Website
Plaintiff's Lawyers Ali, Kathryn M. (District of Columbia)
PD-ID-0001-0001
Calderon, Tovah R. (District of Columbia)
PD-ID-0001-0004
Eppink, Richard Allen (Idaho)
PD-ID-0001-0001 | PD-ID-0001-9000
Ladine, Bret H. (California)
PD-ID-0001-0001
Lillie, Andrew C. (Colorado)
PD-ID-0001-0001
Monta, Christine A. (District of Columbia)
PD-ID-0001-0004
Shen, Jenny Q. (California)
PD-ID-0001-0001
Stoughton, Corey L. (District of Columbia)
PD-ID-0001-0004
Williamson, Jason D. (New York)
PD-ID-0001-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Cantrill, David William (Idaho)
PD-ID-0001-9000
Olson, Wendy J. (Idaho)
PD-ID-0001-0004
Skinner, Daniel Joseph (Idaho)
PD-ID-0001-9000

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