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Luckey v. Harris

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

November 23, 1988

No. 88-8047


 [*1013]  VANCE, Circuit Judge:

This is an appeal from dismissal of a complaint on two alternate grounds: that the eleventh amendment bars relief against the defendants and that the complaint fails to state a claim for which relief could be granted. Appellants, on behalf of a bilateral class consisting of all indigent persons presently charged or who will be charged in the future with criminal offenses in the courts of Georgia and of all attorneys who represent or will represent indigent defendants in the Georgia courts, brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1982)  [**2]  against the following defendants in their official capacities: Joe Frank Harris, the Governor of Georgia, the Honorable Robert J. Noland, Chief Judge of the Douglas Judicial Circuit, the Honorable Joe E. Crumbley, Chief Judge of the Clayton Judicial Circuit, and all Georgia judges responsible for providing assistance of counsel to indigents criminally accused in the Georgia courts. Appellants allege that systemic deficiencies including inadequate resources, delays in the appointment of counsel, pressure on attorneys to hurry their clients' case to trial or to enter a guilty plea, and inadequate supervision in the Georgia indigent criminal defense system deny indigent criminal defendants their sixth amendment right to counsel, their due process rights under the fourteenth amendment, their right to bail under the eighth and fourteenth amendments and equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment. Appellants seek an order requiring that appellees meet minimum constitutional standards in the provision of indigent criminal defense services.

On June 24, 1987, the district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss on the grounds that the suit, while nominally against [**3]  the Governor and state court judges, was in essence a suit against the state of Georgia and therefore was barred by the eleventh amendment. Appellants filed a motion for reconsideration. On December 31, 1987 the court once again granted appellees' motion to dismiss, concluding that even if the eleventh amendment were no bar to appellants' action, the suit failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted. For the reasons stated below, we reverse on both grounds and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

The threshold issue is whether appellants' suit is barred by the eleventh amendment. ] The eleventh amendment provides:

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860 F.2d 1012 *; 1988 U.S. App. LEXIS 15659 **

Horace LUCKEY, III, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Joe Frank HARRIS, Governor, et al., Defendants-Appellees

Subsequent History:  December 29, 1989; As corrected; Rehearing En Banc Denied December 29, 1989, Reported at: 1989 U.S. App. LEXIS 19976; Rehearing and Rehearing In Banc Denied December 29, 1989, Reported at: 1989 U.S. App. LEXIS 20105.

Prior History:  [**1]  Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.


state official, indigent, funds, appellants', compliance, rights, prospective relief, ineffective, parte, constitutional standard, courts

Constitutional Law, State Sovereign Immunity, General Overview, Civil Procedure, Federal & State Interrelationships, Federal Judicial Limitations, Preliminary Considerations, Governments, Federal Government, Employees & Officials, State & Territorial Governments, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Criminal Law & Procedure, Counsel, Effective Assistance of Counsel, Tests for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, Appeals, Legislation, Effect & Operation, Prospective Operation