(Senate - April 17, 2013)

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[Pages S2744-S2745]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                       REMEMBERING ANTHONY LEWIS

  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, Today I would like to pay tribute to 
Anthony Lewis who passed away on March 25. As a reporter covering the 
Supreme Court and through his books, including ``Gideon's Trumpet,'' 
Mr. Lewis shaped the way millions of Americans understand the role of 
the judiciary in safeguarding our democracy. He was truly an iconic 
figure in American journalism and he will be greatly missed.
  Reading Anthony Lewis changed the way so many of us thought about 
justice in this country. He brought legal decisions to life and made 
clear the impact the law has on our lives. He made us aware of the 
humanity behind the technical legal arguments. Nowhere did he do this 
better than in ``Gideon's

[[Page S2745]]

Trumpet,'' his 1964 book about the Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. 
Wainwright. That landmark case affirmed a fundamental principle of our 
democratic society: that no person, regardless of economic status, 
should face prosecution without the assistance of a lawyer.
  I have spoken countless times over the years about the importance of 
that decision. And each time, whether it was here on the floor of the 
Senate, in the Judiciary Committee questioning nominees to the Supreme 
Court, or in conversations with young law students, I have thought 
about ``Gideon's Trumpet'' and the powerful impact that book had on me.
  In fact, on the 50th anniversary of the Gideon decision, which was 
just days before Mr. Lewis's death, I introduced the Gideon's Promise 
Act, a bill intended to breathe new life into that seminal case and 
ensure the fairness of our criminal justice system for all 
participants. Much of what I said about the anniversary of Gideon, and 
the work that remains, finds its roots in my days as a young attorney 
when I read ``Gideon's Trumpet'' and was moved both by the unfairness 
it revealed of a system that allowed poor people to be jailed without a 
lawyer, and the powerful equalizing impact a courageous Supreme Court 
can have when it is willing to stand up for those who are marginalized.
  When I was a young law student, my wife and I had an opportunity to 
have lunch with Justice Hugo Black shortly after he wrote the majority 
decision in that case. It was a powerful experience. He recognized that 
the Sixth Amendment's guarantee to counsel in a criminal case was 
fundamental to a fair trial. He called it an obvious truth. And I know 
from my days as a prosecutor how right he was.
  Now, as we pause to remember Anthony Lewis and his contributions to 
our understanding of the right to counsel and so many other fundamental 
principles of American democracy, it is also fitting that we 
acknowledge that the promise made in Gideon remains unfulfilled. In too 
many courtrooms it is better to be rich and guilty than poor and 
innocent. The rich will have competent counsel, but those who have 
little often find their lives placed in the hands of woefully 
overburdened public defenders or underpaid court-appointed lawyers who 
are inexperienced, overworked, inept, uninterested, or worse.
  And now our Federal public defender system, long held out as the gold 
standard of indigent defense, is being hobbled by sequestration. In New 
York, the Federal Defenders Office is being forced to furlough each of 
its 30 lawyers for 5\1/2\ weeks by the end of September, resulting in 
delays in even the most significant terrorism cases. Chief Judge 
Loretta Preska of the Southern District of New York called these cuts 
``devastating.'' The head of the Federal Defenders Office stated: ``On 
a good day, we're stretched thin. . . . Sequestration takes us well 
beyond the breaking point. You simply can't sequester the Sixth 
Amendment.'' He is right.
  I am hardly alone in my concern over this fundamental American right. 
Last month, four leading advocates for fairness in the criminal justice 
system, including former Vice President Walter Mondale, sent a letter 
to President Obama urging him to create a bipartisan commission on the 
fair administration of justice for the indigent accused. I applaud 
their efforts and I believe Anthony Lewis would have too.
  Through his reporting on the Supreme Court and our Nation's civil 
rights challenges, Anthony Lewis opened the eyes of millions of 
Americans to the power of law and judges to change lives. He helped 
shape my thinking as a young lawyer, and I hope his work will continue 
to be an inspiration for the generations to come. Our democracy will be 
stronger for it.
  I ask that a copy of an article dated April 8 be printed in the 
Record at the conclusion of my statement.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                [From the New York Times, Apr. 8, 2013]

           Citing Cuts, Lawyers Seek Relief in Terrorism Case

                          (By Benjamin Weiser)

       Federal public defenders who are representing a son-in-law 
     of Osama bin Laden on terrorism charges urged a judge on 
     Monday not to hold an early trial because automatic 
     government budget cuts were requiring furloughs of lawyers in 
     their office.
       The request, which seemed to take the judge, Lewis A. 
     Kaplan, by surprise, follows requests that five or six 
     federal judges in Manhattan have received from public 
     defenders to be relieved from cases in the wake of the 
     automatic cuts, known as sequestration, said Loretta A. 
     Preska, the chief judge of the Federal District Court in 
       ``It's devastating,'' Judge Preska said late Monday. She 
     praised the work of the federal defenders and said their 
     replacement in cases with publicly paid court-appointed 
     lawyers would probably lead to delays and higher costs.
       Judge Kaplan said in court on Monday that he was 
     considering holding the trial of bin Laden's son-in-law, 
     Sulaiman Abu Ghaith--a onetime Al Qaeda spokesman charged 
     with conspiring to kill Americans--in September. After the 
     defense requested a later date, he said: ``It's extremely 
     troublesome to contemplate the possibility of a case of this 
     nature being delayed because of sequestration. Let me say 
     only that--stunning.''
       The judge did not set a trial date, saying he would 
     consider the request, but the exchange shows how the forced 
     budget cuts are beginning to have an effect on the 
     administration of justice in federal courts in New York.
       About 30 trial lawyers with the federal defenders office 
     handle around 2,000 criminal cases a year in federal courts 
     in Manhattan, Brooklyn and other locations, according to 
     David E. Patton, who heads the office.
       The forced cuts, he said, will mean each lawyer in the 
     office will be furloughed for five and a half weeks through 
     the end of September, when the fiscal year ends.
       ``On a good day, we're stretched thin,'' Mr. Patton said. 
     ``Sequestration takes us well beyond the breaking point. You 
     simply can't sequester the Sixth Amendment.''
       ``Investigations have to be conducted,'' Mr. Patton added. 
     ``Evidence must be reviewed. Law must be researched. Those 
     things don't just happen by themselves.''
       In seeking the delay, lawyers for Mr. Abu Ghaith, who was 
     arraigned in March, cited the need for overseas 
     investigation, the translation of voluminous materials and 
     other issues. ``We would urge the court to find a later 
     date,'' one lawyer, Martin Cohen, said.
       Judge Preska said that lawyers had been allowed to leave 
     one of the cases in which the furlough problem had been 
     cited; the issue is pending in the others.
       Newly appointed lawyers would have to ``get up to speed'' 
     on their cases, and because they are paid by the hour 
     (federal defenders are salaried), the public would probably 
     end up paying more, Judge Preska said. ``There's no 
     resolution,'' she said. ``Time is of the essence, and we're 
     very, very concerned.''