Event Calendar

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Online Open Space Event: National Public Defense Workload Study

Date(s): September 28, 2023

Time: 12:00 PM  EST - 4:30 PM  EST

September 28 - Held on Zoom 
Noon - 4:30 pm Eastern
9 am - 1:30 pm Pacific 

Workload Standards in Public Defense: A Comprehensive Discussion

The escalating issue of excessive caseloads in public defense necessitates an urgent reevaluation of workload standards. This workshop is designed to facilitate a discussion on the National Public Defense Workload Study, a project of the RAND Corporation, the National Center for State Courts, the American Bar Association‘s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants, and Lawyer Stephen F. Hanlon.

Empirical Findings and Modern Standards
The study finds that effective public defense, as guaranteed by the Constitution, now requires over twice as much time as previously thought: an extremely conservative application of the study’s time recommendations would set a maximum workload of 59 low-level felonies or 150 low-level misdemeanors per attorney, per year, compared to the 1973 standard of 150 felonies or 400 misdemeanors. A more sustainable workload – accounting for time off, training, and office administration – would be lower still.

Workload standards from 1973 simply no longer apply to our era of digital and scientific evidence. This study gives public defenders across the country, including in your community, a tool for evaluating current personnel needs. When compared to local data, the study’s recommendations are likely to show that the demands of mass criminalization far outstrip the supply of available defenders.

Methodology: Open Space Technology
The workshop will utilize Open Space Technology to foster a collaborative environment for dialogue and problem-solving. This participant-driven methodology allows attendees to engage deeply with the issues most pertinent to public defense workload management.

Virtual Format and Breakout Sessions
The event will be held virtually via Zoom, incorporating breakout sessions for more focused discussions. This format enables broad participation across jurisdictions and roles within the public defense community..

See this two minute video for more about Open Space.

•    We will have a brief opening convening in which participants offer their own topics for discussion, then do two rounds of discussion sessions in which you can choose where to be and move from "room" to "room". Then we will close. Each session will create a shared document with main points and ideas generated during the session from all the "rooms". These documents will be shared with all that attend.


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