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LAW SCHOOL ASSOCIATE DEAN APPOINTED TO COUNCIL CHARGED WITH REWORKING THE STATE’S INDIGENT DEFENSE SYSTEM

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Friday, August 1, 2003

WRITER: Alana Archer, 706/542-5172, lawcomm@uga.edu CONTACT: Heidi Murphy, 706/542-5172, hmurphy@uga.edu

LAW SCHOOL ASSOCIATE DEAN APPOINTED TO COUNCIL CHARGED WITH REWORKING THE STATE’S INDIGENT DEFENSE SYSTEM

ATHENS, Ga. - Associate Dean Paul M. Kurtz of the University of Georgia School of Law has been appointed to the new Georgia Public Defender Standards Council. He was chosen by Chief Judge J.D. Smith of the Georgia Court of Appeals to represent the 10th Judicial District of Georgia. He will serve a four-year term on the council, which will be responsible for creating a new statewide public defender framework by 2005 to relieve the current indigent defense system that was deemed incapable of protecting the rights of the poor.

The new system, created by the Georgia Indigent Defense Act of 2003, will require the state to provide adequate legal representation for criminal defendants who cannot afford their own lawyers. It will replace overwhelmed and underfunded county-operated programs that often result in the unfair treatment of indigent defendants with a single state-funded system of public defenders. The Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, composed of a representative from each of the state’s 10 judicial districts along with one of the state’s public defenders, is charged by law with the responsibility of creating statewide standards for indigent defense programs and public defenders. Kurtz said, “While appropriate funding is yet to be arranged, the bill enacted by the General Assembly creates a structure which promises accountability and competency in the representation of those who lack resources to defend themselves when their liberty is at stake. I am proud to have been part of the effort that produced this new law and to play a role on the standards council.” For over two years, Kurtz served as reporter of the Supreme Court of Georgia Commission on Indigent Defense, whose report and recommendations provided the foundation for the new law.

Kurtz has been a member of the UGA law school faculty since 1975, specializing in criminal, family and constitutional law. He has served as the law school’s associate dean since 1991 and in 1994 was named J. Alton Hosch professor of law.

Kurtz earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Laws from Harvard Law School.

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