Resource: Securing Reasonable Caseloads: Ethics and Law in Public Defense

By: Norman Lefstein

January 1, 2011

Chapter 1: The Failure to Implement the Right to Counsel Due to Excessive Caseloads
A. The Constitutional Right to Counsel: Brief Overview
B. Excessive Workloads: A Pervasive National Problem
C. Why the Caseload Problem Is So Extremely Difficult to Solve

Chapter 2: The Duty of Defense Programs and Lawyers to Avoid Excessive Caseloads
A. Rules of Professional Conduct
B. Performance Standards for Defense Representation
C. Ethics Opinions
D. Recommendations Related to Caseloads

Chapter 3: The Detrimental Effects and Risks of Excessive Caseloads
A. Supervision and Mentoring
B. Disciplinary Sanction
C. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
D. Section 1983 Liability and Wrongful Convictions
E. Malpractice Liability

Chapter 4: Understanding Lawyer Behavior: Why Leadership Matters
A. Social Psychology
B. Organizational Culture
C. Change from the Top

Chapter 5: Remedies for Defenders Terminated Due to Caseload
A. Chapter Overview
B. Employment At-Will
C. Montana Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act
D. Due Process of Law
E. Summing Up: Due Process, Excessive Caseloads, and Exceptions to Employment At-Will

Chapter 6: Determining Costs and Staffing Needs
A. Weighted Caseload Studies
B. Alternative Proposal: Experimental Design
C. Alternative Proposal: Tracking Public Defender Time
D. Blinded by Numbers

Chapter 7: Reducing Excessive Caseloads Through Litigation
A. Litigation Seeking to Stop New Appointments and/or Withdraw
New Orleans (Orleans Parish), Louisiana
Kingman (Mohave County), Arizona
Knoxville (Knox County), Tennessee
Miami (Dade County), Florida
B. Other Important Litigation
Kentucky—Declaratory Judgment
Missouri—Caseload Rules and Supervisory Authority
Michigan and New York—Systemic Litigation
C. Federal Government Lawsuits: A Potential Remedy

Chapter 8: Case Studies—Public Defense Programs and Control of Caseloads
A. Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS)
B. Public Defender Service (PDS), Washington, D.C.
C. Private Defender Program (PDP), San Mateo County, California

Chapter 9: Recommendations—Indigent Defense Structures and Litigation Strategies
A. Indigent Defense Structures
B. Litigation Strategies
C. Conclusion

Resource Type(s):

Clearinghouse Links to External Resources

Institution: Indiana University--Indianapolis

Citation: (ABA 2011)

Related Case Types:

Indigent Defense