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4 Law Notes Gen. Prac. [i] (1967-1968)

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Published by the American Bar Association's Section of General Practice and Young Lawyers Section



   One of the objectives of the Section of General Prac-
tice is to  undertake projects and  present programs
which  will directly assist our members in their daily
                   practice of the law. As  a conse-
                   quence, a  number of our members
                   have  requested  that our Section
                   render assistance  in helping the
                   general  practitioner to meet his
                   obligation in representing indigent
                   defendants in criminal proceedings.
                   The great majority of our communi-
Robert W. Merrill  ties do not have a public defender,
San Franciscb, Calif. and as a result of the Supreme
                   Court decisions  there is an ever
increasing burden on lawyers to meet the need for court
appointed counsel.
   I might add that the members who communicated with
us  were not  objecting to this traditional obligation
borne by lawyers. Their concern is that as general prac-
titioners they may not have the knowledge and experi-
ence in the field of criminal law to provide a defendant
with the most skillful defense possible.
   To  meet this need, our Section has  undertaken a
long range two part program. First, in order to provide
direct training in the field of criminal law we presented
criminal trial demonstrations at both the regional meet-
ing of the ABA  at Oklahoma City and at our National
Institute at Dallas. We are planning to present similar
programs in other parts of the country in the future. In
addition, we plan to develop the material and format for
1 program which  can be sent to bar associations and
which can then be presented by the local group to its
own members.
   As a second  part of the program, we are gathering
information and developing recommendations which will
aid our members in improving the systems used for the
defense of indigents in their respective communities.
For  example, one  community may  not have  a public

      Section membership as of December 31, 1965
      Section membership as of December 31, 1966
      Section membership as of this issue


defender  system, whereas  a community  of  a similar
size and type in a sister state may have. Or the board
of supervisors or commissioners in one county may pro-
vide adequate funds for the payment of attorneys repre-
senting indigent defendants, while a like county in a
sister state does not do so. Or a particular community
may find that there are enough attorneys knowledgeable
in criminal law who are willing to serve on a panel for
the representation of indigent defendants without call-
ing upon  the other members of the Bar. Our members
have indicated that this type of information will be very
helpful to them in bringing about an improved system
in their communities.
   To  carry out this work, the Council of our Section
authorized the appointment of a Committee  on Repre-
sentation of Indigent Defendants,  and I have  asked
Bill Cornelius of Jefferson, Texas, to serve as chair-
man  of the committee.
   The  recent decision of the Supreme  Court  in the
Gault case concerning the representation by counsel of
juveniles, will also greatly increase the need for court
appointed counsel. This  will even affect lawyers in
communities which  have a public defender system, as
these are usually matters which are not being handled
by a  public defender. Accordingly, consideration will
also be given  to steps that might be taken to assist
those of our members who may be called upon to repre-
sent juveniles in these proceedings.

   Since 1962, the year in which the Section of General
Practice was  created, our Section has passed several
                      On  July  1, 1964,  our Section
                   joined forces with the Young Law-
                   yers Section to publish, on a quar-
                   terly basis, a new publication-Law
                   Notes.  October 1964  saw the dis-
                   tribution of our first issue. That
                   issue, and  the subsequent issues,
                   have  attempted to print articles of
Bruce E. Davis      practical and immediate assistance
Bethlehem, Pa.     to our readers.
   Since the first issue of Law Notes was distributed 3
years  ago this month, we have published 112 articles.
We  have covered some 16 general areas of the law, with
each  area of law covered by at least 3 articles.
                  (Continued on page 2)

VOL.  3, NO. 5


for  the   General Practitioner

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