2023 Public Defense Summit - Achieving Political Independence and Manageable Caseloads in a Modern Public Defense System

Online Event: April 13-14, 2023

2023 marks the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Gideon v. Wainwright guaranteeing the right to counsel for criminal defendants. But even six decades later, public defenders and other indigent defense providers continue to struggle against outside challenges to provide their clients with the best possible representation. The 2023 ABA Public Defense Summit will focus on ensuring manageable workloads, protecting public defender independence, and other such challenges.

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2022 ABA Public Defense Summit - Management and Oversight of Assigned Counsel and Contract Systems

Public Defense Summit

Summit Program Recordings Are Now Available

In almost every jurisdiction in the country, some portion of public defense work is undertaken by private practice attorneys operating as either court appointed or contract counsel. The 2022 ABA public defense summit focused on the needs and oversight of such attorneys, whether they were representing all individuals charged with crimes in their jurisdiction or just a small portion thereof.

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Ten Principles on Reducing Mass Incarceration

Adopted at the 2022 ABA Annual Meeting, the Ten Principles on Reducing Mass Incarceration articulate the critical steps necessary to help to combat the drivers of mass incarceration and ultimately reduce the number of people in jails and prisons nationwide.

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The Oregon Project: An Analysis of the Oregon Public Defense System and Attorney Workloads Standards

ABA SCLAID and Moss Adams collaboratively conducted the Oregon Project, An Analysis of Public Defense Attorney Workloads. Published in January 2022, the Oregon Project includes an analysis of historical public defense caseloads and staffing, as well as a Delphi process, which resulted in attorney workload standards. Combining these analyses, the project determined that, at current caseloads, Oregon has a very substantial deficiency of contract public defense attorneys.

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The New Mexico Project: An Analysis of the New Mexico Public Defense System and Attorney Workload Standards

ABA SCLAID and Moss Adams collaboratively conducted the New Mexico Project, an analysis of public defense attorney workloads. Published in January 2022, the New Mexico Project included an analysis of historical public defense caseloads and staffing, as well as a Delphi process, which resulted in attorney workload standards. Comparing these analyses, the project determined that New Mexico has a significant deficiency of public defense attorneys.

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Use of the Delphi Method in ABA SCLAID Public Defense Workload Studies: A Report on Lessons Learned - By Stephen F. Hanlon, Malia Brink & Norman Lefstein.

Together with data and system analysis experts, ABA SCLAID has conducted public defender workload studies in Missouri, Louisiana, Colorado, Rhode Island and Indiana. This new report details ABA SCLAID’s use of the Delphi Method to establish jurisdiction-specific public defense workload standards and details lessons learned while conducting these studies.

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COVID-19 Resources

Pandemic Resources

The ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense (SCLAID) has launched a web page that consolidates resources from across the country to assist the access to justice community in addressing the many challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Court Watching

ABA Court Watching

ABA SCLAID and CRSJ have coordinated on a number of court watching efforts. These efforts have focused on misdemeanor and other low-level criminal and civil infraction courts.

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Reports and Publications

Reports and Publications on Indigent Defense

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

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Events, Webinars and CLE

Indigent Defense Events

SCLAID regularly hosts, sponsors or co-sponsors a variety of events on topics relating to public defense or of interest to the public defense community. This page features upcoming events, meetings and CLE, as well as past events available on video.

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ABA Standards and Policies

Standards and Policies

View standards and policies related to public defense.

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Public Defense News

News and news archives available at indigentdefense.org. Email Mark Pickett at mark.pickett@americanbar.org with news, jobs, events, or subscription requests.

Here is the public defense news Jan 26-Feb 1, 2023

Registration for the ABA Public Defense Summit is now live! The summit will be held virtually on April 13 and 14, 2023. The summit will focus on ensuring manageable workloads, protecting public defender independence, and other such challenges. Earn 9 hours of CLE credit, including 1.5 ethics credit hours.

National:

‘America’s dirty little secret’: Thousands of misdemeanor defendants don’t get attorneys

‘Unconstitutional’ public defense systems upend lives, freedom across West

Staffing shortages, crushing workloads make public defenders’ jobs ‘impossible’

Criminal defense attorney breaks down graphic video of Tyre Nichols' beating

REPORT: Analyzing the ‘Over-Incarceration of Native Americans’

Technical Assistance

Find information regarding technical assistance to courts, bar associations, and other entities.