In Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution requires the states to provide defense attorneys to criminal defendants charged with serious offenses who cannot afford lawyers themselves. Although Public Defender offices existed prior to this famous case, they were never a guaranteed right...until this court decision.
I'm an investigator with a Public Defender office in Northern California and our office (like many offices nationwide) does not have much of a clothing budget for clients who are going to trial.
We dress clients in "Court appropriate attire" which usually means: Suit jackets, dress shirts, ties and the occasional matching suit (We will dress both men and women). Many of the attorneys in our office buy their clients clothes out of their own pocket and some try and make do with what we have on hand.
YES, we do have a "Clothes Closet" (as do many Public Defender offices) but even with all the generous used clothing donations, it's a constant battle to find clothing for clients that isn't worn out, fits, matches and didn't go out of style in the 1970's.
We started the Public Defender Project to help make sure our clients are able to put their best foot forward during the most important part of the court process.
IF we are able to raise ANY money for clothes it would be awesome AND if there are other Public Defender offices (anywhere) that need some money (for clothes, dry cleaning, laundering costs) and are looking to start their own fundraising and need artwork or ideas let us know and we'll help out...gratis of course.