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The United States criminal legal system employs what is said to be an “adversary” system—one in which opposing parties—the prosecution and the defense—present their evidence and arguments (usually in conflict with one another) to a neutral third party (a judge or jury) for adjudication. The idea behind the adversarial process is that a judge or jury is best positioned to make determinations of guilt or innocence once provided with reliable information from competent, zealous, and prepared advocates on both sides of the podium. At its core, the adversarial system is meant to function as the mechanism by which constitutional principles are invoked and utilized to prevent injustice. Such a system, however, is predicated on the assumption that opposing counsel stand on equal footing—having similar training, time, and resources to support their respective positions. Unfortunately, the adversarial system exists in Georgia, and countless other jurisdictions, only as a myth—due in large part to a crisis of constitutional proportions. ...

The purpose of this Article is to shine light on the pervasive Sixth Amendment crisis in Georgia and its impact on the people, places, and system it affects, to propose potential solutions to the crisis—rooted in the concept of resource parity, and to spark a community conversation about the path forward. The Article first provides a historical backdrop of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Next, it explores the contours of Georgia’s existing Sixth Amendment crisis and how it emerged. Finally, it proposes a series of actions that, taken collectively, have the potential to dramatically curtail the state’s failure to consistently provide effective representation to those accused of crimes.

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Criminal Law Commons