(Harrisburg) -- A state senator says the chamber is taking a first step toward trying to change Pennsylvania's status as the only state government that doesn't help the poor get lawyers to defend them in criminal
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill today to create the Pennsylvania Center for Effective Indigent Defense Legal Representation and give it $1 million to start training lawyers. It passed 8 to 6.
The sponsor, Senator Stewart Greenleaf, says Pennsylvania isn't providing the right to a fair trial for the poor and that violates a 51-year-old U.S. Supreme Court decision.
A unanimous high court declared in 1963 that states must provide defendants with lawyers to ensure a fair trial for the accused. The Pennsylvania Bar Association and American Civil Liberties Union support the bill.
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