|Among the many problems state public defenders observe is the general public's failure to comprehend the; nature of their work and to understand the importance of providing an adequate defense to the indigent accussed. The Supreme Court's sixth amendment charges in Gideon and Argersinger have not been fulfilled in too many state criminal justice systems mainly due to lack of political backing for their work. To strengthen the right to counsel some state defenders are reaching into their communities to build new fortes of political support. One likely ally that is too often overlooked are Federal defenders who are engaged in simlilar work. Although both represent the. indigent accused these two worlds rarely coincide. Too often the only contact state defense lawyers have with the Federal defenders arc periodic joint training sessions; sometimes there is no contact at all. The concept elf state public defenders reaching-out more systematically to Federal defenders to increase communication, share expertise, and engage in political coalition-building is relatively novel. This paper explores ways to build incentives for increased collaboration between state and Federal defenders representing clients within tile same geographic area. The stateof Minnesota serves as a case study of techniques and strategies that have begun to shift perceptions among state public. defenders and others stakeholders in the criminal justice system. This shift takes on particularly significance considering that an increasing number of cases which might have previously been brought in the state system arc now being brought in the Federal system. In the second part of the paper the Minnesota case study will serve as an example to explain the concept, behind a proposal for a national Attorney Defender. The creation of a National Attorney Defender could serve as a unifying force akin to the Attorney General, only from a defense perspective within our adversarial system. This increased political 'piggybacking' arid the national Attorney Defender proposal reflect new approaches to forge broader national support for the sixth ammendment right to counsel.
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