The Champion

March 2007 , Page 50 

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Informal Opinion

By Michael P. Judge

A Different View of Excessive Defender Caseload Issues

On at least a weekly basis my Personnel Reassignment Committee reviews our balance of personnel and our deployment to ensure we are capable of providing high quality representation. Personnel assignments are adjusted to match up the experience and skill needed for the incoming and existing cases and to properly fill vacancies. In the event that this is not feasible, representation in certain incoming cases is declined and private practitioners are appointed.

Having such a system of workload monitoring in place is required to comply with the standards of the Indigent Defense Services Delivery System Guidelines promulgated by the California State Bar in 2006. The Guidelines provide that the public defender (or one in a similar position in a private bar system) is personally responsible for ensuring that the workload is not excessive for all employees or members of the defense team, not merely for the lawyers.

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