Harvard law professor Laurence H. Tribe is reportedly leading an effort to ensure legal rights for the poor. (Photo: Eric Brown, politicalactivitylaw.com)

Laurence H. Tribe, a Harvard law professor and frequent litigator before the Supreme Court, has been asked to lead an Obama administration effort to ensure quality legal help for the poor. He is to start Monday as senior counselor for the Access to Justice initiative, according to NPR.

“As he tries to improve indigent defense, Tribe will also look to programs outside of the criminal justice system, such as drug courts and mental health courts. He will work on issues related to criminal, civil and famlly courts,” Ari Shapiro reports.

The radio and Web report explains:

The Constitution’s Sixth Amendment guarantees that every criminal defendant will have access to a competent lawyer, but many states don’t keep that promise. Some states don’t have the money or the systems in place to provide people with good lawyers.

With more than 80 percent of defendants unable to pay for their own lawyers, problems with indigent defense reach the core of the criminal justice system.

More here.