WILLIAMSON – Today marks the first nationwide celebration of National Public Defense Day.
National Public Defense Day is celebrated on March 18, the anniversary of the US Supreme Court case, Gideon v. Wainright, that ruled that states are required under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to provide counsel in criminal cases to represent defendants who are unable to afford to pay their own attorneys.
The case extended the right to counsel, which had been found under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to impose requirements on the federal government, by ruling that this right imposed those requirements upon the states as well.
This year is the 53rd anniversary of that case.
The National Association for Public Defense (NAPD) is hosting a social media campaign to celebrate National Public Defense day.
In fact, the NAPD has created a Facebook event that states, “On the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Gideon decision, defender offices around the country will celebrate their hard work fighting routine injustices, upholding the Constitution, and siding with the marginalized.”
According to the NAPD, “Thousands of public defenders, social workers, investigators, and administrators are essential to providing justice to persons accused of crime. Celebrate those heroes this Friday on Public Defense Day.”
The West Virginia Lawyer Magazine recently published an article about Mingo County’s own public defender and her work.
Teresa McCune has served as Mingo County’s Chief Public Defender for 25 years. The article explains that McCune is the longest serving chief public defender in West Virginia.
The article continues stating, “After graduation, she ( McCune) returned to West Virginia, working for Legal Aid of West Virginia and briefly, in private practice. In 1990, she was asked by the local Bar to become the first Chief Public Defender for Mingo County.”
In the article, McCune is questioned as to why she has remained in this job. McCune responded, “I love every aspect of this job. Before I took the position, I had not done a lot of criminal law. The minute I started doing it, I knew it was what I was meant to do. I love the work. I love the people I work with. It takes a special breed to be a criminal defense lawyer. All of the attorneys in my office are just brilliant. I learn something new every day. Why would I not stay in this job?”
For more information on National Public Defense Day visit www.publicdefenders.us.