In 2009, hundreds of indigent defendants were languishing in prison without a lawyer due to substantial underfunding of Georgia’s indigent defense system. Along with the Southern Center of Human Rights, Mike Caplan and Emmet Bondurant brought a class action seeking systemic reform of Georgia’s appellate indigent defense system. In December 2011, after the class had grown to over 800 indigent defendants and within days of trial, the parties entered into a consent decree effecting broad systemic reforms to Georgia’s system for appellate representation of the poor. Among other measures, the state agreed to more than quadruple the size of its Appellate Division and improve oversight for contract and staff attorneys.
In July of 2014, the state demonstrated substantial compliance with the consent decree. In an interview with the Fulton County Daily Report, Caplan remarked on the achievements of the Flournoy consent decree. “We commend the GPDSC for the real improvements it has made to its Appellate Division, particularly through the hiring and retention of full-time, salaried, and properly trained public defenders. We are hopeful that the state will continue to appropriate the funding necessary to maintain its commitment to the Appellate Division, so the state never again convicts and imprisons poor people without providing them the lawyer to which they are constitutionally entitled.” See here (subscription required).