November 01, 2019 Public Defense

Across the Country Public Defenders Take Critical Steps to End Excessive Caseloads

Malia Brink

The most vexing and persistent problem in public defense is the excessive caseloads that interfere with the ability of defense programs to implement effectively the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. When caseloads are excessive, indigent defendants are at serious risk of harm. The predicament is much like a cardiologist who must complete 10 surgeries every day. At first the cardiologist will try to take the necessary time with each patient, extending the day to try to perform at a top level despite incredible time constraints. But eventually she will have no choice but to cut corners. The care of certain patients will be sacrificed to create more time for others.

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