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National Public Defense Day: Overview

March 18th is National Public Defense Day. This libguide has been created to promote that day and provide a list of resources salient to public defenders.


Statutory basis

Context and analysis of the Right to Counsel:

  • LII - The Right to Counsel: "The right to counsel refers to the right of a criminal defendant to have a lawyer assist in his defense, even if he cannot afford to pay for an attorney. The Sixth Amendment gives defendants the right to counsel in federal prosecutions. However, the right to counsel was not applied to state prosecutions for felony offenses until 1963 in Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335. This was done through the incorporation doctrine. However, for certain misdemeanors, there is not a guaranteed right to counsel."
  • The Sixth Amendment Center - Facts and Resources: "The right to counsel under the U.S. Constitution is actually a fairly simple concept. If you are charged with a crime for which you face potential time in jail, then you have the constitutional right to have a lawyer to assist you in your defense. And if you can’t afford to hire that lawyer on your own, then the government must provide you with a qualified attorney at public expense."
  • Constitution Annotated - When the Right to Counsel Applies: "The Constitution Annotated is a comprehensive, government-sanctioned record of the interpretations of the Constitution. Through 2 U.S.C. § 168, Congress has ordered the Librarian of Congress to compile and periodically update the Constitution Annotated to provide essential information to Congress and the public at large. A bound edition of the Constitution Annotated is published every ten years, with cumulative updates printed as a supplement insert every two years. Copies of the bound edition and supplement insert are available to every Member of Congress and shipped to every depository library in the United States."
  • The Brennan Center - The Right to an Attorney: Theory vs. Practice: "The head of the Sixth Amendment Center explains how to bridge the gap between what the Constitution guarantees and what people can actually get when it comes to public defenders."

Prominent cases

Gideon v. Wainwright - 372 U.S. 335 (1963)

The Supreme Court held, in a unanimous decision, that the Fourteenth Amendment creates a right for criminal defendants who cannot pay for their own lawyers to have the state appoint attorneys on their behalf. Before this case, the 6th Amendment right to counsel was only recognized for federal criminal trials.

Background / Opinion

Brewer v. Williams - 430 U.S. 387 (1977)

The right to counsel granted by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments means at least that a person is entitled to a lawyer's help at or after the time that judicial proceedings have been initiated against him; and once interrogation has begun of that person.

Background / Opinion

Nix v. Whiteside - 475 U.S. 157 (1986)

The Sixth Amendment right of a criminal defendant to assistance of counsel is not violated when an attorney refuses to cooperate with the defendant in presenting perjured testimony at his trial.

Background / Opinion

Strickland v. Washington - 466 U.S. 668 (1984)

The appropriate standard for ineffective assistance of counsel requires both that the defense attorney was objectively deficient and that there was a reasonable probability that a competent attorney would have led to a different outcome.

Background / Opinion

Reference Librarian


Research Materials

Criminal Law Materials

Complete manual of criminal forms, 3rd ed. F. Lee Bailey and Kenneth J. Fishman. (Clark Boardman Callaghan, 1993- ) (no longer updated in print as of 2020)  KF 9616 .B2522 & Westlaw subscription database (ID/password required)*

Constitutional rights of the accused, 3rd ed. Joseph G. Cook. (West Group, 1996- ) Westlaw subscription database (ID/password required)*

Criminal law defenses. Paul H. Robinson. (West Group, 1984- )  Westlaw subscription database (ID/password required)*

Criminal law reporter. (BNA) Bloomberg Law (ID/password required)*

Criminal practice manual. (Thomson-West, 2004- )  Westlaw subscription database (ID/password required)*

Criminal procedure, 4th ed. Wayne R. LaFave, et. al. (Thomson-Reuters, 2015-)  Westlaw subscription database (ID/password required)*

Criminal procedure in practice, 5th ed.  Paul Marcus.  (ABA, c2018)  KF9656 .M29 2018 

The Department of Justice manual, 3rd ed. (Aspen Law & Business, 2000)  KF 5107 .D482 (Reserve) (no longer updated in print) & Online via VitalLaw 

Federal criminal trials, 8th ed. James C. Cissell. (LexisNexis, 2016- )  KF 9660 .C572 (last print update 2023) & Lexis subscription database (ID/password required)*

Federal grand jury: a guide to law and practice, 2nd ed.Susan W. Brenner and Lori E. Shaw. (Thomson/West, 2006- )  Westlaw subscription database (ID/password required)*

Grand jury law and practice. Sara Sun Beale et al. (West Group, 1997- )  Westlaw subscription database (ID/password required)*

Handling misdemeanor cases, 2nd ed. F. Lee Bailey and Kenneth J. Fishman. (Clark Boardman Callaghan, 1992- )  KF 9656 .B352

How to try a murder case: pretrial and trial guidelines for prosecution and defense. Michael D. Wims, Jack B. Rubin, & Charles Ambrose. (Criminal Justice Section, ABA, c2011)  KF 9306 .W56 2011

Law of confessions, 2nd ed. David M. Nissman and Ed Hagen. (Thomson West, 2013- )  Westlaw subscription database (ID/password required)*

Prosecutorial misconduct, 2nd ed. Bennett L. Gershman. (West Group, 2002- )  Westlaw subscription database (ID/password required)*

Prosecutorial misconduct: law, procedure, forms, 4th ed. Joseph F. Lawless. (LexisNexis & Matthew Bender, 2008- )  KF 9640 .L38 2008

The rights of the accused under the Sixth Amendment: trials, presentation of evidence, and confrontation, 2nd ed. Paul Marcus et al. (ABA, 2016)  KF 4558 6th .R54 2016

Searches and seizures, arrests and confessions, 2nd ed. William E. Ringel. (Thomson-West, 1979- ) Westlaw subscription database (ID/password required)*

Search and seizure: a treatise on the Fourth Amendment. 5th ed. Wayne R. LaFave. (Thomson-West, 2012 - )  KF 9630 .L26 2012

Wharton’s criminal evidence, 15th ed. Barbara Bergman. (West Group, 1997- )  Westlaw subscription database (ID/password required)*

Wharton’s criminal law, 15th ed. Charles E. Torcia. (West Group, 1993- )  Westlaw subscription database (ID/password required)*

White collar crime, 2nd ed. Joel M. Androphy. (West Group, 2001- )  Westlaw subscription database (ID/password required)*


Appeals and writs in criminal cases. 3rd ed. Sarah H. Ruddy. (CEB, 2007-)  KFC 1174 .F582

California criminal defense practice. (Lexis Publishing, 1981- )  KFC 1155 .C342  & Lexis subscription database (ID/password required)*

California criminal law, 4th ed. B.E. Witkin and Norman L. Epstein. (Witkin Legal Institute, 2012- )  KFC 1100 .W52 2012

California criminal law. Prof. Laurie L. Levenson & the Hon. Alex Ricciardulli. (Rutter Group c2014-) KFC 1100 .L35 (Reserve) & Westlaw subscription database

California criminal law forms manual. 2nd ed. Sara H. Ruddy (CEB, 2005 - )  KFC 1155 .A65 C342 (Reserve)

California criminal law procedure and practice. (CEB, 1986- )  KFC 1155 .C3424 (Reserve) & Online via CEB OnLaw

California criminal practice, motions, jury instructions and sentencing, 4th ed.. Edward A. Rucker, Mark E. Overland. (Thomson-West, 2015-2017) KFC 1155.A65 R8 2015 (Reserve) & Westlaw subscription database (ID/password required)*

California criminal procedure. Laurie L. Levenson. (Rutter, c2011- )  KFC 1155 .L482 & Westlaw subscription database (ID/password required)*

California three strikes sentencing. J. Richard Couzens & Tricia A. Bigelow. (Rutter Group, c2008- )  KFC 1172 .C68

Defending your client in a misdemeanor case (including DUI): here's how and when to do it. Timothy J. Garrigan & Nicole Solis. CEB Action Guide. (CEB, c2014)  KFC 995 .A1 C34 (Reserve) & Online via CEB OnLaw

Scientific evidence and expert testimony in California. (CEB, 2015- )  KFC 1165 .S352

Sex crimes: California law and procedure. J. Richard Couzens & Tricia A. Bigelow. (Rutter Group, c2011- )  KFC 1122 .C68 & Westlaw subscription database (ID/password required)*

NOTE: Most CEB titles are also available online via CEB OnLaw.

*NOTE: UCLA School of Law provides Bloomberg Law, Lexis & Westlaw accounts for UCLA law students, faculty and staff only.

Public Defender organizations

State-level public defender organizations

Federal public defender organizations


Legal Organizations