Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Constitution Day panel presentation planned for Sept. 17 at Saint Mary’s

WINONA, Minn. — A Constitution Day panel presentation titled “Justice and the Constitution: The Right to Counsel, Gideon v. Wainwright, and its Legacy at Fifty” will be held Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Saint Mary’s University.

The event, free and open to the public, will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the President’s Room of the Toner Student Center.

Panelists will include:

• Rich McCluer, J.D. — Criminal law attorney with Price, McCluer & Plachecki; formerly chief trial lawyer for the Third Judicial District Public Defenders Office and named a “Minnesota Superlawyer” by the Minnesota Journal of Law and Politics

• Larry Price, J.D. — Assistant professor, Department of Business, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

• Karin Sonneman, J.D. — Winona County attorney; formerly public defender for Minnesota’s Third Judicial District and two-time Gideon Award recipient, awarded to a public defender best exemplifying the principles of Gideon

• Judge Jeffrey D. Thompson, J.D. — Chief judge for Minnesota’s Third Judicial District, formerly Rice County attorney and assistant Winona County attorney

Gideon v. Wainwright was the 1963 Supreme Court case, which led to the government appointing defense attorneys at no cost to those not able to afford it. This is widely believed to have made the U.S. legal system more accurate and fair, but 50 years later, some question whether the ideals upheld in Gideon have been eroded by underfunding, heavy case loads and plea-bargains. This panel of legal experts will explore the original case and the state of justice in the U.S. court system 50 years later.

This Constitution Day presentation is sponsored by Saint Mary University’s Department of Social Science. For more information, contact moderator Dr. David Lynch, professor and chair, Department of Social Science, at dlynch@smumn.edu or (507) 457-1526.