Duke v. State Amicus Brief

In response to an invitation from the Georgia Supreme Court, ACCG has filed an amicus brief in Duke v. State, a criminal case in which the defendant is accused of the 2005 murder of Tara Grinstead in Irwin County. Although Duke initially was represented by the Circuit Public Defender’s Office, that office withdrew after private attorneys took on his case pro bono. Later, however, those private attorneys sought funding from the Public Defender Standards Council for expert witnesses and investigators to assist in Duke’s defense. Because Duke was not being represented by the Public Defender, the trial judge denied that request. Duke appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, which posed the questions of whether Duke was entitled to public funding for the requested services and, if so, what entity is responsible to provide that funding. On December 21st, ACCG filed an amicus brief focused on the history of indigent defense in Georgia and the 2003 creation of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council and circuit public defender’s offices, which replaced the prior, inconsistent provision of indigent defense in a variety of ways by Georgia’s counties. ACCG’s brief argues that, because Duke is not being represented within the state-created indigent defense system, he is not entitled to public funding for the services requested – and certainly not from Irwin County, in light of the state’s assumption of public defender responsibilities in 2003. The full amicus brief may be viewed here.