Thank you for your article in the Oct. 21, 1996 edition of Virginia Lawyers Weekly [“Court-appointed lawyers protest”]. I believe it was instrumental in influencing the Board of Directors of the Virginia College of Criminal Defense Attorneys in adopting and concentrating on the issue of improved legal services for the indigent accused in our Virginia criminal courts.
The Board decided to push on two fronts; the first is to improve the overall competency and adequacy of criminal defense attorneys by adopting guidelines for minimum standards of practices for criminal defense attorneys. This will entail a mentor policy by which no member of the organization will undertake a criminal defense without having prior experiences under a qualified attorney.
The second will be an intensive effort to influence the General Assembly, the Courts and the Governor in increasing services for the indigent accused. This, of course, includes an increase in compensation for court-appointed attorneys but also entails renewed studies of the Public Defender system.
I know people constantly blast reporters when they get aggravated so I thought some thanks might be in order.
John C. Stephens, Jr.