public defenders

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright in which the Supreme Court ruled, unanimously, that defendants in criminal cases deserved legal representation in state courts. If defendants could not afford counsel, the state would have to provide it. Those lawyers are known as public defenders. 

Connecticut public defenders hope to use the trial of a Bridgeport man as the venue to challenge the constitutionality of a new law that outlaws capital punishment in the state, but only for future crimes.

Richard Roszkowski is awaiting the penalty phase of his capital trial for the 2006 murders of his former girlfriend, her 9-year-old daughter and his former roommate.

Michael Courtney, head of the state Public Defender's Office capital defense unit, said Wednesday he plans to file a brief by August 7 in the case, challenging the state's right to seek the death penalty.