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Study Cites Economic Efficiency, Better Outcomes for Federal Public Defenders

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Adam Liptak picked up on a recent study of federal public defender programs for the NY Times, Public Defenders Get Better Marks on Salary. In An Analysisof the Performance of Federal Indigent Defense Counsel (.pdf), Harvard economist Radha Iyengar studied the the performance of Public Defenders and Court-appointed attorneys in federal cases. From the abstract:

Exploiting the use of random case assignment between the two types of attorneys, an analysis of federal criminal case level data from 1997-2001 from 51 districts indicates that public defenders perform significantly better than CJA panel attorneys in terms of lower conviction rates and sentence lengths. An analysis of data from three districts linking attorney experience, wages, law school quality and average caseload suggests that these variables account for over half of the overall difference in performance.

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