Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,500,000)
Problem to be Addressed: The Sixth Amendment encompasses a set of rights that help ensure fair adjudication and accurate verdicts. State and local governments, and courts specifically, have an affirmative responsibility to uphold these rights, yet many fail to meet this obligation fully. Examination of the Sixth Amendment highlights three areas in which courts play a pivotal role in the deprivation of rights due to overcrowded court calendars and case delays; the coercive elements of plea bargaining; and the challenges of jury trials.
Primary goals and activities. The Center for Court Innovation (the Center), with Fair Trials and NPC Research, proposes to provide three levels of training and technical assistance (TTA) to judiciaries and courts across the country to improve Sixth Amendment protections:
1) Intensive strategic planning and customized TTA activities will facilitate an overall review and assessment of all protections found within the Sixth Amendment in each site. The Center and NPC Research will provide needs-based TTA to four sites for 18 months to inform strategic planning.
2) On-demand TTA and action research activities will facilitate strategic planning around discrete challenges (e.g., speedy trial, impartial jury, etc.). The Center and Fair Trials will provide needs-based TTA to four sites for 12 months.
3) Limited assistance TTA activities will include remote consultations by the Center and Fair Trials to facilitate brief informational and referral responses.
The learnings from TTA sites will be used to identify gaps in knowledge affecting Sixth Amendment practice and inform the development of project deliverables. To maximize the reach and impact of deliverables, the Center will partner with AgencyQ to continue and expand their work on the Strengthening the Sixth website.
Project Strategy. The project pairs experienced practitioners and researchers to take a needs-based approach to working with courts. Combined with subject matter experts, the team helps sites understand what can be distilled from practice and research to inform how sites can use the information to improve their systems.
Anticipated benefits and major deliverables. The Center and Fair Trials will collaborate on developing and disseminating various materials, including one national or several regional virtual convenings, fact sheets, and briefs. The findings related to gaps in knowledge will be captured in at least one written deliverable on a pertinent topic area. These products will be designed for general audiences and made easily accessible to courts, policymakers, researchers, media, defense providers, and others through Strengthening the Sixth.