Resource: Doyle v. Allegheny County Salary Board


June 27, 2003

American Civil Liberties Foundation

In September 1996, the ACLU, its Greater Pittsburgh Chapter and local lawyers filed suit against Allegheny County, Pa., alleging that the County was failing to provide its public defender system with the tools necessary to enable it to adequately represent its clients. The County cut the public defender's budget so drastically that the office's attorneys had astronomical caseloads. Because of these caseloads, they were unable to visit clients, investigate cases and prepare adequately for trial. Two years after it was filed, the case settled. Under the terms of the settlement, the County agreed to double its funding for the public defender program and to employ a consultant to assist the program in promulgating a merit hiring system, practice standards, a system of supervision and monitoring, and a training program. Implementation of the settlement is still under way.