Here you will find recent books and reports concerning indigent criminal defense, as well as links to archived materials.


NEW! The Louisiana Project: A Study of the Louisiana Public Defenders System and Attorney Workload Standards

A study conducted by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants and Postlethwaite & Netterville, APAC on behalf of the Louisiana Public Defender Board to establish public defense workload standards for the State of Louisiana, called the Louisiana Project.

NEW! How to Improve Your Public Defense Office
Public defense is in bad shape in much of the country, but no matter how deep the muck may be, we can make it better. Learn eight ways to improve your public defense office. Download »


NEW! The Slow Justice Movement
After decades of “McJustice,” it’s time for a slow justice movement.. Download »




NEW! Public Defense: The New York Story
With the creation of a statewide public defense commission, the passage of caseload limits in New York City, and the success of impact litigation in five counties, New York is an excellent starting point for understanding indigent defense improvement. Download »

NEW! Indigency Guidelines
A collection of indigency guidelines and statutes utilized by state courts and state public defender offices to determine client eligibility. Download »

Missouri Workload Study Report and National Blueprint
Workload studies are a critical first step in improving public defender systems. This groundbreaking report not only documents the Missouri Project workload study, but also provides a National Blueprint for future studies. Download »

National Indigent Defense Reform: The Solution is Multifaceted
This report, developed by leading indigent defense scholars and practitioners, details new approaches to improving indigent criminal defense systems, focusing on reclassification and diversion, delivery of services, and collaboration and cooperation with others within the criminal justice system. Download »

Executive Summary and Recommendations: Securing Reasonable Caseloads: Ethics and Law in Public Defense 2012
Professor and Dean Emeritus Norman Lefstein summarizes the key points set forth in Securing Reasonable Caseloads and offers suggestions for addressing the serious structural problems found in indigent defense systems. Download »

Securing Reasonable Caseloads: Ethics and Law in Public Defense 2011
As Former FBI Director William S. Sessions writes in the foreward, this is a "vital book by the nation's leading scholar on indigent defense systems." Securing Reasonable Caseloads is essential reading for anyone devoted to improving indigent criminal defense.

View the Table of Contents
Order a hard copy from the ABA store

Gideon's Broken Promise: America's Continuing Quest for Equal Justice
As Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anthony Lewis explains in the foreward, "Our willingness to assure the least among us the guiding hand of counsel is a test of our American faith." This comprehensive report, summarizing the results of the ABA's public hearings upon the 40th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, concludes that Gideon's promise of equal justice for the poor has not been kept.
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)

Primary Indigent Defense Delivery System at Trial Level *

* SOURCE: The Spangenberg Group ("primary indigent defense delivery system" refers to the program appointed in more than 50% of the state's indigent defense cases at the trial level).
Each state below links to a short PDF summary of testimony regarding that state's indigent defense problems, reform efforts, and model approaches.
AL | CA | GA | IL | IN | LA | MD | MA | MI | MS | MT | NE | NV | NM | NY | OR | PA | RI | SD | TX | VA | WA

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