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Case Name Wilson v. Allen County PD-IN-0002
Docket / Court 1:15-cv-00402 ( N.D. Ind. )
State/Territory Indiana
Case Type(s) Indigent Defense
Case Summary
On December 31, 2015, an indigent defendant, charged with a misdemeanor in Allen County, Indiana, filed this lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. The plaintiff sued Allen County, the Allen County Board of Commissioners, Allen County Council, and Allen County Public ... read more >
On December 31, 2015, an indigent defendant, charged with a misdemeanor in Allen County, Indiana, filed this lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. The plaintiff sued Allen County, the Allen County Board of Commissioners, Allen County Council, and Allen County Public Defender Board under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Represented by a civil rights litigation firm, he sought declaratory and injunctive relief enjoining the County from implementing policies that violated indigent defendants' Constitutional rights. The plaintiff claimed that the County Public Defender system was so overburdened that indigent defendants did not receive constitutionally adequate counsel, in violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment of the United States and the Indiana State Constitution. He also sought class certification to include "all individuals who have or will have misdemeanor criminal cases pending in the courts of Allen County, Indiana, who have or will have an attorney assigned to them due to indigency and have not been convicted or entered into a plea agreement."

Specifically, the plaintiff described his own experience being represented by a public defender. His counsel had a caseload including hundreds of other misdemeanor cases; failed to conducted any meaningful legal research into the plaintiff's case or charges; had not filed any substantive motions on his behalf; had not held any confidential meetings with the plaintiff outside the courthouse; and spent less than one hour on his case in its entirety.

On February 3, 2016, the plaintiff moved to amend his complaint. He sought to add another named plaintiff, clarify certain factual and legal allegations, and remove the jury demand. On February 23, 2016, Magistrate Judge Susan L. Collins granted the plaintiff's motion as to the first two requests, but denied the plaintiff's request to remove the jury demand. The plaintiff amended the complaint two more times - on May 17, 2016 and on August 19, 2016. The third amended complaint removed Allen County as a defendant. The Allen County Board of Commissioners, Allen County Council, and Allen County Public Defender Board remained defendants in the case.

On March 14, 2016, Daniel Sigler was assigned as a mediator to the case. He submitted a report to the court on February 15, 2017 stating that mediation had failed.

On May 1, 2016, the case was removed from Judge Philip P Simon and assigned to Chief Judge Theresa L. Springmann. As of July 11, 2017, the parties were still engaging in discovery.

Gabriela Hybel - 07/11/2017


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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
Funding
Quality of representation
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) Allen County Board of Commissioners
Allen County Council
Allen County Public Defender Board
Plaintiff Description Indigent defendant charged with a misdemeanor in Allen County, Indiana
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
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)
1:15-cv-402 (N.D. Ind.)
PD-IN-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/20/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PD-IN-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/31/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Third Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 45]
PD-IN-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/19/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Springmann, Theresa Lazar (N.D. Ind.)
PD-IN-0002-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Frank, David W. (Indiana)
PD-IN-0002-0001 | PD-IN-0002-0002 | PD-IN-0002-9000
Spurling-Newman, Skyler B. (Indiana)
PD-IN-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Feighner, J Spencer (Indiana)
PD-IN-0002-9000
Feighner, John O (Indiana)
PD-IN-0002-9000
Fishering, G William (Indiana)
PD-IN-0002-9000
Maser, Laura L. (Indiana)
PD-IN-0002-9000
Posey, James P (Indiana)
PD-IN-0002-9000

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