Indigent Defense System

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.

From watching crime shows on television, we would all have the impression that a prosecutor stands on one side and a public defender stands on the other in every case, giving the appearance that their roles are exact mirror images of each other. But this is not true, for several reasons.

Author/Organization: Phyllis E. Mann
Publication Date: 02/09/2011

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.  

"Improving Criminal Justice Systems Through Expanded Strategies and Innovative Collaborations." Report of the National Symposium on Indigent Defense, February 1999.

Author/Organization: US Department of Justice
Publication Date: 1999

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Tom Green County, Texas considers regional defender model

BY Jon Mosher on Friday, February 4, 2011 at 12:20 PM

As noted in our Gideon Alert on January 26, the National Association of Counties recommended the federal government fund pilot public defender programs to serve multi-county jurisdictions in rural areas.  The San Angelo Standard-Times reports that Tom Green County, Texas is considering such a regional model using grant funds from the state’s Task Force on Indigent Defense.  NLADA applauds the county’s leadership for considering creative solutions to their local right to counsel dilemma.

Addressing representatives of U.S. county governments, David Carroll stated: "Prudent use of taxpayer dollars requires that we all work together to get state policy-makers to reduce the need for public defense attorneys in the first place by removing non-violent, low level felonies and misdemeanors from the formal justice system through diversion, mediation and/or reclassification of crimes to non-jailable infractions where it is safe, reasonable and prudent to do so.  It is only through reducing our dependence on public defense that we will ever be able to get states to relieve counties of this financial burden once and for all."

Author/Organization: National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA)
Publication Date: 01/20/2011

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From 1974 to 1976, following consultations with the Attorney General and the Administrator of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association convened a 35-member National Study Commission on Defense Services, with LEAA grant support. The Commission's charter was to utilize the standards developed by the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and goals in 1973 as a "basic underpinning for an extensive study of defense services aimed at preparing a blueprint of guidelines and procedures which would meet the nation's indigent defense needs."

Author/Organization: National Study Commission on Defense Services, NLADA
Publication Date: 1976

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Gideon Alert: Michigan Bar task force recommends how to deliver justice in the face of diminishing returns

BY David Carroll on Tuesday, February 1, 2011 at 6:16 PM

“By almost every measure, indigent criminal defense as a whole in Michigan falls far short of accepted standards, undermining the quality of justice, jeopardizing public safety, and creating large and avoidable costs.  Michigan’s public defense system has fallen far short of acceptable standards for decades and is worsening … The cost of properly fixing the system is great; the cost of not fixing it is greater.” This is the conclusion reached about indigent defense services in the State Bar of Michigan’s “Judicial Crossroads Task Force” report Delivering Justice in the Face of Diminishing Returns, released January 26, 2011.  The report summarizes the conclusions of a Bar-convened task force composed of twenty-nine leaders of the Bar, business, civic and political communities, including 14 judges.

By this letter, the ACCD called upon Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice to collaborate toward the accomplishment of three major goals: (1) creation of a permanent federal structure that protects and supports the right to counsel; (2) funding of necessary federal resources to support quality public defender services; and (3) provision of high-quality federally funded training for public defense managers, leaders and practitioners. 

Author/Organization: American Council of Chief Defenders (ACCD)
Publication Date: 01/15/2010

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