ABA Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System


The ABA’s Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System:

1. The public defense function, including the selection, funding, and payment of defense counsel, is independent.

2. Where the caseload is sufficiently high, the public defense delivery system consists of both a defender office and the active participation of the private bar.

3. Clients are screened for eligibility, and defense counsel is assigned and notified of appointment, as soon as feasible after clients’ arrest, detention, or request for counsel.

4. Defense counsel is provided sufficient time and a confidential space within which to meet with the client.

5. Defense counsel’s workload is controlled to permit the rendering of quality representation.

6. Defense counsel’s ability, training, and experience match the complexity of the case.

7. The same attorney continuously represents the client until completion of the case.

8. There is parity between defense counsel and the prosecution with respect to resources and defense counsel is included as an equal partner in the justice system.

9. Defense counsel is provided with and required to attend continuing legal education.

10. Defense counsel is supervised and systematically reviewed for quality and efficiency according to nationally and locally adopted standards.

The Harris County system of providing representation to the indigent violates at least half of those principles: #1, #2, #7, #8, and #10.

How many does the Dallas County system, which includes a PD’s office, violate?


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