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January 24, 2020

Note: Justice Talking's grant funding expired in 2008 and the project has been closed. This website is an archive of the entire run of Justice Talking shows through June 30, 2008.
It is no longer being maintained. We apologize for any stale or broken links.
Featured Program

Photo by: Sonia J. Stamm
Defense and the Death Penalty
Last Featured: 3/8/2004

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Note: Justice Talking ceased production on June 30 of 2008. Link information on this site is not maintained and is provided for historical interest only. Although correct when posted, The Annenberg Public Policy Center makes no claim as the the accuracy or continued availability of any third party web links found on this site.

Sleeping attorneys, misfiled forms and failure to investigate evidence, have given rise to a series of capital cases that ask, “if you have the right to an attorney, must they be good?” While most everyone agrees the right to counsel is a cornerstone of our justice system, some say it is meaningless if the poor are appointed counsel so distracted or incompetent as to make them wholly ineffective. But prosecutors warn against opening the floodgates to every convicted felon who claims he would be free but for incompetent representation.

Stephen Bright is the Director of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta and teaches at the Harvard and Yale law schools. The Center works to protect the rights of people in the criminal justice and prison systems of the South. Bright has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and testified before Congress. He has written numerous articles and has had his work and that of the Center have featured in two books, Proximity to Death by William McFeely and Finding Life on Death Row by Kayta Lezin. Bright is the recipient of the 1998 Thurgood Marshal Award.

Kevin Lyons is the Peoria County State's Attorney in Illinois. He serves on the governing board of the National District Attorney’s Association and the State Bar Association’s Committee for Criminal Justice. He is a member of the Attorney General's Task Force Against Violence to Children and is the Governor's appointee to the Illinois Gang Commission. Prior to his election as State’s Attorney in 1988, Lyons was in private practice and served as Assistant Public Defender. He is a former president of the Illinois State’s Attorney Association and chair of the State Bar Association's Committee on Prisons.

Closing Quote
"Preparation is the be-all of good trial work. Everything else—felicity of expression, improvisational brilliance—is a satellite around the sun. Thorough preparation is that sun."

— Attorney Louis Nizer

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Special Announcements
Justice Talking’s last broadcast & podcast was June 30, 2008.
National Legal Aid & Defender Association
Georgia Indigent Defense Council
Criminal Law Update, Texas Attorney General’s Office
OYEZ.com cases
Amnesty International
Criminal Justice Legal Foundation
Justice for the Poor: A Study of Criminal Defense Work (Law, Justice and Power)
by Debra S. Emmelman
No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System
by David Cole
The Right to a Jury Trial
Bail Bondsmen, Bounty Hunters and Private Prisons
Innovations in Policing