Part I of this Essay describes the systemic indigent defense suits in Michigan and New York, noting their similar but ultimately divergent paths. Part II addresses the question of how systemic litigation in the indigent defense arena is faring in the wake of the Michigan suit. Despite the Michigan setback, this kind of litigation may still be a powerful reform tool in certain jurisdictions. Moreover, in some jurisdictions there will always be the need for litigation simply because it is the only path to reform. I note three jurisdictions where litigation is either already happening in some fashion and/or where systemic litigation may be on the horizon. Finally, I conclude with the notion that the federal government needs to play a more active role in indigent defense reform, whether or not systemic lawsuits enjoy success in state courts.
Carla H. Drinan, Systemic Indigent Defense Litigation: A 2010 Update, 7 TENN. J. L. & POL’Y 8 (2010).