Posted on June 3, 2024

Oregon Defendants Without a Lawyer Must Be Released From Jail, US Appeals Court Says

Associated Press, May 31, 2024

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a ruling that Oregon defendants must be released from jail after seven days if they don’t have a defense attorney.

In its decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called Oregon’s public defense system a “Sixth Amendment nightmare,” OPB reported, referring to the part of the U.S. Constitution that guarantees people accused of crimes the right to a lawyer. The opinion said Oregon is responsible for upholding legal protections for criminal defendants.

Oregon has struggled for years to address its public defender crisis. As of Friday, more than 3,200 defendants did not have a public defender, a dashboard from the Oregon Judicial Department showed. Of those, about 146 people were in custody, but fewer people were expected to be impacted by Friday’s ruling, according to OPB.