Caseloads | Workloads

California county notes the value of a strong defense

BY Jon Mosher on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 10:54 AM

On April 26, the Daily Democrat featured a guest column demonstrating the value of public defenders from the county administration’s perspective.  The public defender’s office in Yolo County, California, “in addition to representing people individually, also provides a system of checks and balances on the criminal justice system as a whole.  It guarantees that no agency -- whether that be the District Attorney's Office or a police department -- is allowed to operate unchallenged and unquestioned.  The Constitution is very much a reaction to the events that came before it.”

On March 8, NLADA research director David Carroll conducted a national webinar on behalf of, the DOJ/BJA’s National Training and Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC). While state policymakers work to construct indigent defense systems that meet basic foundational national standards, prudent use of taxpayer dollars requires that they concurrently decrease the need for public defense attorneys by removing non-violent, low-level felonies and misdemeanors from the formal justice system through diversion and/or reclassification of crimes to infractions where it is safe, reasonable and prudent to do so. The presentation explores the state of the right to counsel in America, offers insight into current national standards, and presents practical solutions to public defense problems that threaten our courts' abilities to produce verdicts that are fair, correct, swift and final. The hour-long webinar includes a 40-min presentation followed by 20 mins of questions and answers.

Author/Organization: David Carroll, NLADA
Publication Date: 03/08/2011

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Nevada Supreme Court orders uniform public defense case counting definitions

BY David Carroll on Friday, February 18, 2011 at 12:20 PM

On February 15, 2011, the Nevada Supreme Court adopted a court order requiring all Nevada counties to use a uniform definition of a “case” in reporting right to counsel caseload data.  The definition adopted in Nevada for the time being counts as a single case “a single defendant in a single charging document.”  The Order expressly notes that this measure “will under report caseload at times when one defendant is charged with separate crimes from separate incidents that may necessitate indigent defense counsel to treat the appointment as multiple cases.”   The court agreed with the definition supported by the Conference of State Court Administrators and the National Center for State Courts, first established in their joint 1989 publication State Court Model Statistical Dictionary. That definition instructs administrators to “[c]ount each defendant and all charges involved in a single incident as a single case.”  The Court adopted the modified definition of a case because of the current state of case-tracking technology available throughout the state.  If Nevada develops the case-tracking capacity to “accurately count cases in line with the national model,” the Court advises that they intend to revisit the newly adopted definition.

Free Webinar: The Right to Counsel: Standards & Solutions in a Downturned Economy

BY Jon Mosher on Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 9:52 AM

On March 8, 2011, JSERI director David Carroll will be conducting a national webinar entitled The Right to Counsel: Standards & Solutions in a Downturned Economy on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. Program is geared toward policy-makers and judges, but services providers are welcomed. Please forward to key decision-makers in your state. Registration free, but limited.

Missouri’s chronic right to counsel problems revisited

BY Jon Mosher on Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 1:15 PM

In a five-part spotlight series published on February 5, 2011, the Springfield News-Leader has focused once more on the state of Missouri’s chronic failure to provide a meaningful right to counsel as required under the Constitution.  Like all states, Missouri must provide counsel at public expense to those facing criminal charges who cannot otherwise afford to hire their own attorney.  The state intends for all right to counsel services to be provided to all indigent defendants through its statewide public defender system, but there are more people who require the public defender system’s services than it is set up to provide for.  Instead, the Office of the Missouri Public Defender has only enough resources to provide constitutionally effective representation to a percentage of those who are entitled to public representation.  

The Missouri Public Defender Commission's budget is meant to provide attorneys for all indigent criminal defendants, but the total number of people needing services has grown too large. So, while every indigent defendant must receive an attorney, the overarching question before the Pratte Court was whether the Commission or the judges are responsible for deciding which clients will receive services through the budget of the Public Defender Commission and which clients will have to receive services through some other budget. "When current state funding is inadequate to provide the effective representation to all of Missouri's indigent defendants that the United States and Missouri constitutions require, the commission's rules present an approach to dealing with the situation."

Author/Organization: Supreme Court of Missouri
Publication Date: 12/08/2009

Items contained in the NLADA Library do not and are not meant to constitute advice of any kind. Content in the NLADA Library is contributed by users. If you believe this material infringes your or any other person’s copyright or if you feel that the material is inappropriate, please report this to NLADA Staff by clicking below.

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In 2008, the Office of the Public Defender for the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida, providing indigent defense services for Miami-Dade County, was engaged in litigation regarding excessive caseloads.  This Resolution was issued in connection with that litigation.

Author/Organization: American Council of Chief Defenders (ACCD)
Publication Date: 06/05/2008

Items contained in the NLADA Library do not and are not meant to constitute advice of any kind. Content in the NLADA Library is contributed by users. If you believe this material infringes your or any other person’s copyright or if you feel that the material is inappropriate, please report this to NLADA Staff by clicking below.

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In 2008, the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy and the Louisville and Jefferson County Public Defender Corporation were engaged in litigation regarding excessive caseloads in their indigent defense systems.  The ACCD issued this Resolution in connection with that litigation.

Author/Organization: American Council of Chief Defenders (ACCD)
Publication Date: 07/22/2008

Items contained in the NLADA Library do not and are not meant to constitute advice of any kind. Content in the NLADA Library is contributed by users. If you believe this material infringes your or any other person’s copyright or if you feel that the material is inappropriate, please report this to NLADA Staff by clicking below.

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In 2003, the American Council of Chief Defenders (ACCD) addressed the ethical duties of chief executive officers in indigent defense systems when faced with excessive caseloads. This is the Ethics Opinion issued, which concludes: "A chief executive of an agency providing public defense services is ethically prohibited from accepting a number of cases which exceeds the capacity of the agency's attorneys to provide competent, quality representation in every case."

Author/Organization: American Council of Chief Defenders (ACCD)
Publication Date: 04/2003

Items contained in the NLADA Library do not and are not meant to constitute advice of any kind. Content in the NLADA Library is contributed by users. If you believe this material infringes your or any other person’s copyright or if you feel that the material is inappropriate, please report this to NLADA Staff by clicking below.

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More Coloradoans requiring public defense attorneys

BY Jon Mosher on Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 3:22 PM

The Denver Post reports that, even as the number of criminal prosecutions across the state has decreased, the Colorado State Public Defender is facing a record-high number of clients to defend.  This paradox, likely common throughout the nation, has a simple explanation.  The downturn in the economy has caused many people to lose their jobs, which in turn means that more people are falling into poverty.  When these people are cited or arrested for alleged violations of the law, increasingly larger percentages of them qualify for public representation.  So, even as fewer people overall are being prosecuted, more and more of them are financially incapable of hiring a private attorney.