2011 -- NATIONAL LEVEL
Hasting Constitutional Law Quarterly
ABSTRACT & CITATION
This article recognizes that excessive caseloads have overburdened public defenders (as well as private contract attorneys) across the country ever since a right to counsel for indigent defendants was recognized by the Supreme Court. The author considers this issue in terms of defenders’ ethical obligations under ABA guidelines, including the ABA Criminal Justice Standards, ABA Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System, ABA Eight Guidelines of Public Defense Related to Excessive Workloads, ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and ABA Formal Opinion 06-0441. All of these sources, taken together, deal extensively with the subject of excessive caseloads. The author nevertheless proposes two revisions to the ABA Criminal Justice Standards that would clarify the ethical responsibilities around this issue. First, he proposes that the rules make clear when and how (either by formal motion or informal declaration) a defense attorney may declare his or herself unavailable for new clients due to an excessive caseload. Second, he argues that the Prosecution Function Standards be amended to state that “prosecutors should not seek to exploit weaknesses in the delivery of indigent defense services,” especially by opposing defenders’ attempts to declare themselves unavailable. Both of these recommendations are grounded in developments in recent litigation concerning excessive caseloads, involving both defenders and prosecutors.
Lefstein, Norman. (2011). Excessive Public Defense Workloads: Are ABA Standards for Criminal Justice Adequate? Hasting Constitutional Law Quareterly. 2011 (Summer): 949-982Topics: Appellate Court Decisions, Assigned Counsel, Caseloads, Ethical and Professional Responsibilities, State Court Decisions, Supervision, Supreme Court Decisions
Last revised: June 9, 2015 4:52 pm