This page was last updated on 10/18/2017
Center on Court Access to Justice for All
Backed by the Sixth and Fourteen Amendments respectively, indigent defense involves the constitutional mandated free representation of those accused of certain crimes required by both federal and state constitutions. Because defendants are entitled to “effective” assistance of counsel, which varies from state to state, common issues for the courts include: the qualifications of counsel, particularly in capital cases; who pays for indigent defense; who qualifies as indigent; and how the defender system is administered.
Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may
be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.
See also; Felony Indigent Defense Assignments in Cuyahoga County, OH: Volume Two: National Standards & Best Practices.
Too many indigent defendants in state courts are represented by undertrained, under resourced lawyers who are under prepared – or at times totally unprepared – to conduct the defense of their clients’ cases. In light of all of the reports describing the crisis in the delivery of indigent defense services throughout the United States, including news stories of the serious problems in Missouri, the Missouri Law Review decided to focus its attention on indigent defense for its 2010 Symposium.
"System Overload: The Costs of Under-Resourcing Public Defense" found that public defense systems across the country are overburdened, and considers how the busting-at-the-seams systems affect state and county budgets, the lives of those behind bars, the impact on their families, and the challenges of re-entering communities after serving time. The study further looks at why dedicated public defenders do not have enough time to conduct thorough investigations, or meet with and provide quality representation for their clients,many of whom are low-income earners and people of color, contributing to disparities in the criminal justice system.
This article compares a sample of the unpid petitions for review filed with the U.S. Supreme Court from the 1976 through 1985 terms to a similar sample of paid petitions to determine whether and how the two dockets differ.
This Article is a basic introduction to the provision of indigent defense services in state courts throughout the country and the ethical obligations of the attorneys who provide those services.
This Article describes why we can add state funding for indigent defense counsel to the list of social events that have proven intractable to explanation and prediction, and what this conclusion means for indigent defense funding policy.
This Article maps legal conceptions of (in)equality onto the socio-geographic conception of spatial inequality in relation to the funding and provision of indigent defense services in the State of Arizona.
While the courts have expanded the right to counsel, they have provided no guidance to states on how to deliver indigent defense or how to pay for indigent defense.
Expenditure on indigent defense continues to be a national problem. West Virginia's administrative structure delivers quality defense with very low administrative costs.
A comprehensive and objective assessment of attorney and staff resources in Virginia public defender offices.