How Conservatives Learned to Love Free Lawyers for the Poor
The Marshall Project
September 22, 2017

“The same year Perry was elected, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association published a damning report that got the Idaho legislature’s attention. Written by a legal reform expert named David Carroll, the report laid out the many failures of Idaho’s public defense system: The state provided no money for criminal lawyers for the poor; counties picked up the tab, often paying a flat fee no matter how many cases lawyers handled. As a result, Idaho’s public defenders were juggling impossible caseloads. In one county, defense lawyers spent an average of only 2.2 hours on each client. (It’s a similarly grim story nationwide: Studies have shown that public defender offices frequently fail to meet caseload guidelines set by the American Bar Association, which recommends no more than 150 felonies or 400 misdemeanors per year, per lawyer.)”

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