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State v. Peart
Louisiana Supreme Court
621 So. 2d 780 (1993)
Leonard Peart (defendant) was charged with armed robbery, attempted armed robbery, aggravated rape, aggravated burglary, and first-degree murder. Peart was declared indigent and was assigned counsel. Peart’s counsel was assigned to defend Peart on all charges except first-degree murder. Peart’s counsel was overseeing 70 active felony cases when he was assigned Peart’s case. Louisiana funds its indigent-defender system by criminal fines, mostly for traffic violations. Indigent defenders have little investigative support, no funds for expert witnesses, no paralegal or law-clerk support, and an inadequate legal library. Peart’s counsel moved to have the state provide more funding for Peart’s defense. The trial court held that the statute providing for the indigent-defender system, specifically as applied to New Orleans’s indigent-defender system, was unconstitutional. The trial court also held that Peart’s counsel could not provide effective assistance and ordered Peart’s counsel’s caseload reduced and the legislature to provide Peart’s counsel with an investigator and a better law library. The trial court further ordered the legislature to provide the indigent-defender system with the funds needed to pay additional attorneys, paralegals, law clerks, investigators, and expert witnesses. The state (plaintiff) appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Calogero, C.J.)
Dissent (Dennis, J.)
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