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H.R. 2063 (114th): National Center for the Right to Counsel Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Apr 28, 2015.

National Center for the Right to Counsel Act

Establishes in the District of Columbia a private, nonprofit corporation to be known as the National Center for the Right to Counsel to provide: (1) financial support to supplement, but not supplant, funding for public defense systems that provide legal assistance to indigent defendants in criminal cases, including systems run by state or local governments as well as private entities or individuals providing services under contract with such governments; and (2) financial and substantive support for training programs to improve delivery of legal services to indigent defendants.

Requires each state to have a state advisory council to: (1) monitor, receive, and investigate complaints regarding the compliance of public defense systems that receive funding with applicable laws and regulations; (2) notify the Center of any apparent violations; and (3) collect data on the delivery of public defense services and facilitate information sharing between the state's public defense systems.

Authorizes the Center to: (1) make grants and contracts; (2) undertake research, training, and technical assistance; and (3) serve as a clearinghouse for information.

Prohibits the Center from interfering with attorneys' professional responsibilities to their clients or from abrogating the authority of states or other jurisdictions to enforce such standards.

Requires the Center, to the extent feasible, to have services provided in an indigent defendant's principal language in areas where significant numbers of indigent defendants speak a language other than English.

Directs the Center to make available to the public an online database that includes the contact information for all public defense systems in every state.

Requires the Center to establish regional backup service centers to assist public defense systems with access to investigators, sentencing mitigation specialists, and information about available grants.