A panel of Ohio legal professionals discussed how a jailhouse lawyer changed history 50 years ago during the Ohio Supreme Court's Forum on the Law on May 23.
Panelists explored the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Gideon v. Wainwright - the landmark case requiring states to provide counsel for indigent defendants under the Fourteenth Amendment. The panel discussed if the guaranteed right to counsel is being fulfilled and how the structure and funding of Ohio's indigent defense system impact that promise.
As a former prosecuting attorney and now Champaign County Common Pleas Court Judge, panelist Nick Selvaggio said there's a negative connotation with the word "public defender."
"I think we as lawyers have a responsibility to get rid of the notion that somehow the public defender isn't as good of an attorney as a retained attorney," Judge Selvaggio said. "I think part of fulfilling Gideon's promise is to elevate the significance of what a public defender does."
Around 75 people attended the ninth Forum on the Law Program.