NACDL - Gideon at 50: Rationing Justice: The Underfunding of Assigned Counsel Systems (Part 1)

Gideon at 50: Rationing Justice: The Underfunding of Assigned Counsel Systems (Part 1)

This report documents the unreasonably low rates of compensation paid to private attorneys who represent indigent defendants in state courts. The lack of adequate funding restricts the pool of attorneys willing to represent indigent defendants and creates conflicts of interest for attorneys by encouraging them to limit the amount of work they perform on a case for an indigent client.

Documents

More experienced attorneys refuse to participate in assigned counsel systems that pay hourly rates far below the market rate while younger attorneys, who are often burdened by student loans, never even consider joining the defense bar. Even more troubling is the possibility that low hourly rates will encourage some attorneys to accept more clients than they can effectively represent in order to make ends meet. The result is an inadequate, inexperienced, overworked and inherently conflicted pool of attorneys accepting court appointments in our criminal courts.

This project was made possible in part by support from the Foundation for Criminal Justice (FCJ). Read more about the work of the FCJ and opportunities to support its efforts.