There is no one size fits all approach to public defense. Communities will have differing needs driven by factors such as geography, population, and caseload. However, there are core components necessary to ensure the defense function is able to fulfill its responsibilities to its clients and the community.
NACDL Works to Improve Public Defense Delivery Systems
- NACDL Resolution: For an Independent Federal Public Defender Agency (2016)
- NACDL Resolution: Restoration of Funding for Federal Indigent Defense (2013)
NACDL Resolutions Regarding Public Defense System Infrastructure
Support for Hybrid Public Defense Delivery Systems (Oct. 2017).
Whenever the population and caseload needs support it, a public defense delivery system should include full-time institutional defenders as well as meaningful participation of private attorneys.
Selection and Qualifications for Public Defense Leadership (Feb. 2018)
Principles regarding the selection, retention, and removal of public defense system leadership include:
- Public defense leadership, management, and operations should be independent and insulated from control by actors whose interests may be directly or indirectly adverse to the public defense function;
- Public defense leadership, management, and operations should have a demonstrated commitment to and experience in:
- Delivering high quality effective, and zealous advocacy on behalf of public defense clients
- Confronting, addressing, and working to eliminate racial disparity and bias in the criminal justice system;
- Promoting and supporting high standards in individual advocacy on behalf of clients and/or for the operation of public defense systems; and
- Advocating for the public defense function within the relevant governance structure to secure necessary funding, staffing, resources, and organizational independence.
- Those directly involved in the selection, retention, and removal of public defense leadership, management, and operations should be committed to the public defense function and should represent the diversity of the community served by the public defense provider.
Other Resources on Public Defense Infrastructure
- Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System, ABA
- Basic Data Every Defender Program Needs to Track, NLADA
- A Fair Fight: Achieving Indigent Defense Resource Parity, Brennan Center for Justice
- American Council of Chief Defenders
- National Association for Public Defense
- National Legal Aid & Defender Association
- Sixth Amendment Center
Defender Standards of Practice
- ABA Criminal Justice Standards for the Defense Function
- Massachusetts Assigned Counsel Manual
- Texas Performance Guidelines for Non-Capital Representation
- Virginia Standards of Practice for Indigent Defense Counsel
- Washington Supreme Court Standards for Indigent Defense
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.