NACDL SUPPORTS SYSTEMIC REFORMS IN INDIANA
Currently Indiana's 92 counties each individually decide the type of public defense system they will operate in their jurisdiction. Counties may choose to participate in the state's public defense reimbursement program and receive reimbursement for up to 40% of their expenses for felony public defense costs by agreeing to meet certain operational guidelines. However, even if a jurisdiction opts into the state system, they receive no compensation for any of the costs associated with misdemeanor cases. Jurisdictions who opt not to participate, retain full control over decisions regarding infrastructure, funding, and oversight. Nearly one-third of Indiana counties opt not to participate in the state reimbursement program.
With concerns about the state’s patchwork system, the Sixth Amendment Center conducted an evaluation of the state’s public defense system. Their resulting 2017 report raised significant concerns regarding structure, funding, and oversight. In response the Indiana Public Defender Commission established a Task Force on Public Defense. The 16-member group included representatives from across the criminal justice system.
In an effort examine the current impacts of Indiana’s system on initial hearings and misdemeanor cases, NACDL representatives undertook 2 weeks of court watching. Observing misdemeanor case representation in 10 different counties across the state, NACDL discovered a number of questionable and concerning practices. These observations, along with NACDL's experiences studying public defense delivery systems, formed the basis of its letter to the Indiana Public Defense Task Force.
After a year of study, which included meetings, presentations by various stakeholder groups, reviews of documents and data, and a 6 stop, state-wide public listening tour, in August 2018 the Task Force issued its report. Among the Report’s conclusions were:
- Access to counsel was uneven across the state
- Misdemeanor caseloads were excessive in many places
- There is need for increased defender training
- There is a need for increased access to investigators, social workers, and interpreters to support defender work
- There is insufficient staff for the Commission to enforce existing standards
- These findings are guiding legislative efforts to bring about infrastructure changes to the state’s public defense system.
Legislative Reforms in Indiana
Passed: Indiana SB 488: Authorizes the Indiana Public Defender Commission to create guidelines for the development of regional public defense offices, paving the way for smaller counties to aggregate their resources to sustain a public defender office.
The PDC also sought legislation to provide funding for misdemeanor reimbursements and the creation of a state-wide appellate office. Despite strong support from a number of organizations, both of those were unsuccessful in the 2019 legislative session. Legislative priorities for the Indiana Public Defender Commission
A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence: A Trial Practice Handbook for Criminal Defense Attorneys
This Guide to Federal Evidence is the only federal evidence handbook written exclusively for criminal defense lawyers. The Guide analyzes each Federal Rule of Evidence and outlines the main evidentiary issues that confront criminal defense lawyers. It also summarizes countless defense favorable cases and provides tips on how to avoid common evidentiary pitfalls. The Guide contains multiple user-friendly flowcharts aimed at helping the criminal defense lawyer tackle evidence problems. A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence is an indispensable tool in preparing a case for trial.
Modern Digital Evidence & Technologies in Criminal Cases
Modern cases need modern defenses, and modern lawyers can't practice with an outdated playbook. This program is a contemporary training that identifies emerging technologies and digital evidence encountered in today's criminal cases and arms you with the tools necessary to combat expert witnesses, prosecutorial overreach, and an uneducated judge and jury. This comprehensive CLE program covers both general aspects of new technologies as well as practical courtroom application and legal challenges to the use of these new technologies.
Top Shelf DUI Defenses: The Law, The Science, The Techniques (2021)
If you are serious about being an effective DUI defense advocate, or if you’re considering adding DUI defenses to your portfolio, you need to know the latest scientific and legal strategies to optimize your success at trial. Learn from the best-of-the-best in the field in this unique CLE Program, updated for 2021.
Defending Modern Drug Cases (2021)
From challenging the arrest and seizure to picking a jury and cross-examining police officers, defense attorneys handling drug cases must be able to construct a defense that will increase the chances of the client getting a positive result for your client.
Effective motion practice, juror selection, and storytelling have never been more important. This seminar will introduce defense counsel to techniques that have been used at recent drug trials to rebut specific claims and overcome the emotion created in today’s criminal legal system.