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CPCS Improving Indigent Defense Delivery Systems

Award Information

Award #
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2012, $346,963)

The Answering Gideon's Call: Improving Indigent Defense Delivery Systems Initiative is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court landmark decision Gideon v. Wainwright of 1963, which guaranteed the right to counsel in criminal cases in every state. While persons accused of a crime have a Constitutional right to an attorney, indigent defense systems throughout the country are frequently underfunded and understaffed. Far too often, the lack of resources poses a serious impediment to providing indigent defendants with even minimally effective legal assistance.

This initiative is designed to contribute to the indigent defense knowledge and practice by testing approaches to providing quality indigent defense services using the Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System promulgated by the American Bar Association (ABA) in 2002. The goals are to enhance a state or local jurisdiction's ability to provide quality representation to indigent defendants, promote innovation, and promote strategies that incorporate the ABA Ten Principles.

The Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) will use this grant to partner with the Center for Court Innovation (the Center) to improve indigent representation in Massachusetts by instituting a sustainable, data-driven, decision making process. To achieve this goal, CPCS and the Center will: identify and articulate best practices in each of CPCS's practice areas; identify key performance indicators that correspond to the articulated best practices; develop a case weighting system for the purpose of more accurately evaluating the capacity of an attorney to provide high-quality representation; assess the capacity of existing CPCS data management systems to collect and report on newly identified goals; develop a proposal for improving or replacing existing data management systems, as needed; and develop a plan for future evaluation of the indigent defense delivery systems. Funds will be used to: support a project manager to oversee and coordinate the program; conduct research by the Center into best practices and the existing data collection capabilities of existing CPCS systems; develop technical data collection and reporting capabilities; and test and train CPCS staff on the use of data collection software and the appropriate use of collected data in making decisions.


Date Created: August 20, 2012