The Radical Idea of Justice

Stephen Bush, Shelby County Public Defender

“We got it right here nearly 100 years ago when visionary leaders embraced the radical idea  that people facing incarceration in Shelby County deserved the help of an attorney,      regardless of ability to pay — and they got it right decades before the U.S. Supreme Court demanded the same for all Americans.

Abe Fortas got it right, too, and may have said it best. In 1966, by then an associate Supreme Court justice, he wrote in Kent v. U.S.: ‘The right to counsel is not a formality. It is not a grudging gesture to ritualistic requirement. It is the essence of justice.'”

– Shelby County Public Defender Stephen Bush, The Commercial Appeal, March 18th, 2016

Read this guest column written to honor the first Public Defense Day.

The Radical Idea of Justice via The Commercial Appeal


Watch this video about the wrongful murder charge that sparked the beginning of public defense in Memphis.