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Notable Recent Publications - July 2020

Notable Recent Publications features the latest empirical research and data related to indigent defense. Should you have suggestions, ideas for work that should be included, or trouble accessing any of the articles featured, please write to


Matthew Clair Privilege and Punishment: How Race and Class Matter in Criminal Court. Princeton University Press. For release: November 17, 2020. 
[From the website:] "Privilege and Punishment examines how racial and class inequalities are embedded in the attorney-client relationship, providing a devastating portrait of inequality and injustice within and beyond the criminal courts.... Clair shows how attempts to exercise legal rights often backfire on the poor and on working-class people of color, and how effective legal representation alone is no guarantee of justice. Superbly written and powerfully argued, Privilege and Punishment draws needed attention to the injustices that are perpetuated by the attorney-client relationship in today’s criminal courts, and describes the reforms needed to correct them"

Sarah Esther Lageson, Digital Punishment: Privacy, Stigma, and the Harms of Data-Driven Criminal Justice. Oxford University Press. For release: June 24.
[From the website:] "In Digital Punishment, Sarah Esther Lageson unpacks criminal recordkeeping in the digital age, as busy and overburdened criminal justice agencies turned to technological solutions offered by IT companies over the last two decades. These operations produce a mountain of data.... Regardless of factual or legal guilt, these records rapidly multiply across the private sector background checking and personal data industries.... [T]his book powerfully demonstrates that addressing digital punishment will require a direct acknowledgement of privacy and dignity in the context of public accusation, and a reckoning of how rehabilitation can actually occur in a society that never forgets."

Lorena Backmaier Winter, Stephen C. Thaman and Veronica Lynn, The Right to Counsel and the Protection of Attorney-Client Privilege in Criminal Proceedings: A Comparative View. Springer.
[From the website:] "The book provides an overview of the right to counsel and the attorney-client privilege in... China, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, UK and USA.... Each chapter explores the regulations, practices and recent developments in each jurisdiction and was written by highly qualified experts in the legal field – from academia and practice alike. It identifies possible solutions and best practices, providing valuable insights for practitioners and law-making bodies alike regarding the actual protection (or lack thereof) of lawyer-client confidentiality in the pretrial and trial stage of criminal proceedings." 


Aaron Gottlieb and Kelsey Arnold. "Do Public Defender Resources Matter? The Effect of Public Defender and Support Staff Caseloads on the Incarceration of Felony Defendants." Journal of Society for Social Work and Research.
"Although scholars have suggested that the lack of resources available to public defenders hinders case outcomes for defendants, this has rarely been studied empirically.... We link county level data on public defender and support staff caseloads from the 2007 Census of Public Defender Offices to individual level data on felony defendant sentencing outcomes in large urban counties from the 2006 and 2009 State Court Processing Statistics.... The results suggest that felony defendants in counties with higher public defender and support staff caseloads are more likely to be detained pretrial and that felony defendants in counties with smaller support staff caseloads receive shorter incarceration sentences."

Heather Harris, "Building Holistic Defense: The Design and Evaluation of a Social Work Centric Model of Public Defense." Criminal Justice Policy Review. 
"Holistic defense is a model of public defense rooted in the early 20th century recognition that lawyers and social workers should cooperate to advocate with and for individuals and communities in need. Prior work on holistic defense highlighted its potential to transform the lives of public defender clients by transforming the legal practice of attorneys. Comparatively, social workers’ roles in these transformations have been neglected. Yet many holistic defense programs begin by integrating social workers onto legal teams. In this article, I describe and evaluate a social work centric holistic defense model piloted in Santa Barbara, California. My research supports recent findings that holistic defense improves case outcomes and substantially reduces incarceration without negatively affecting public safety. I discuss my results in the context of prior research and the potential for holistic defense to reform criminal justice. I then make recommendations for the design of future holistic defense evaluations."

Janet Moore & Andrew Davies, "Introduction to Special Issue: New Developments in Public Defense Research." Criminal Justice Policy Review.
"This special issue focuses on interdisciplinary research in public defense. Seven papers represent a diverse group of scholars in an understudied field. Two overarching themes emerge. The first theme, “System Interventions: Evaluating Programs and Identifying Opportunities,” includes three studies of innovative policies and practices. Two evaluate new resource injections that support, respectively, social work-initiated holistic defense and counsel at first appearance. The third examines state sentencing schemes to identify opportunities for emphasizing defendant assets instead of deficits. The second theme, “Understanding Decision Makers,” includes four papers drawing on qualitative data regarding juvenile resentencing and reentry, defendant views of attorney–client communication, defender motivations for remaining in the profession, and manager perspectives on likely effects of caseload reductions. As a collection, these papers bridge gaps between theory and practice, offer new insight into public defense as a critical component of criminal legal systems, and identify new avenues for future research."

Melanie Sonsteng-Person, Lucero Herrera, Tia Koonse and Noah D. Zatz. "'Any Alternative is Great if I'm Incarcerated': A Case Study of Court-Ordered Community Service in Los Angeles County."Criminal Justice and Behavior.
"California courts increasingly order community service for those convicted of nonviolent and minor misdemeanors or infractions, assigning unpaid work to be performed. While court-ordered community service has been used as an alternative to incarceration and the payment of fines, little is known about the monetary and personal costs for those completing it. A case study design is used to examine court-ordered community service performed in Southeast Los Angeles. Data were gathered from a quantitative dataset of 541 court files of those assigned to community service and 32 in-depth interviews with attorneys and court-ordered community service workers. While the quantitative data and Attorney interviews found that negative outcomes of community service can drive community service workers deeper into debt and result in new warrants that place defendants at risk for rearrest, individuals that completed community service appreciated the opportunity to pay off their criminal justice debts and stay out of jail."

Neel U. Sukhatme and Jay Jenkins. "Pay to Play? Campaign Finance and the Incentive Gap in the Sixth Amendment's Right to Counsel." Duke Law Journal.
"[W]hen courts appoint private attorneys to represent indigent defendants for a fee, as is done in hundreds of jurisdictions across the United States...such assignment systems create an “incentive gap” that financially motivates defense attorneys to maximize their caseloads but minimize their efforts.... [W]e provide empirical evidence that elected trial court judges and criminal defense attorneys regularly engage in “pay to play,” where judges appoint attorneys who donate to their campaigns as counsel for indigent defendants. [Further, w]e find that defense attorneys who donate to a judge are, if anything, less successful than non-donor attorneys in attaining charge reductions, dismissals, and acquittals, or avoiding prison sentences."
See also:

Victoria A. Terranova, Kyle Ward, Jessie Slepicka, Anthony M. Azari, Perceptions of Pretrial Risk Assessment: An Examination Across Role in the Initial Pretrial Release Decision. Criminal Justice and Behavior.
"Pretrial risk assessments are used to inform pretrial release decisions by judicial officers and criminal justice entities. Existing research indicates that negative perceptions of risk assessment can interfere with adherence to the tool. Although perception plays an important role in the implementation of pretrial risk assessment, little is known about what those involved in the initial pretrial release decision—including pretrial officers, judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys—think about this practice. This study utilized a mixed-methods approach to examine the perceptions of pretrial risk assessment by practitioners and stakeholders across roles in the system. Furthermore, themes relevant to the perceived value of pretrial risk assessment are identified that pertain to the face validity of risk items and the reliability of self-reported information."


Overdue for Justice: An Assessment of Access to and Quality of Juvenile Defense Counsel in Michigan. National Juvenile Defender Center.
[From the website:] "Released on June 29, 2020, the Michigan Assessment is based on interviews, court observations, and research conducted by a team of experts who analyzed Michigan’s juvenile defense systems and delinquency courts over the course of a year. The assessment found that while Michigan is working to improve its adult criminal defense system, 'juvenile defense practices are not subject to any state standards, receive no state funding, and have no consistent monitoring or enforcement in place to ensure youth receive effective counsel at all critical stages.'"


Janie Nichols, The New Advocate: A History of Early Female Lawyers in the United States from 1860 to 1920, Honors Thesis in History, Baylor University.
"This thesis will explore the history of the first female lawyers in the United States. I will detail the struggles and successes of those women who, from 1860 to 1920, formed a sense of professional identity for American female attorneys. These women found success and overcame many social and legal limitations because of two primary factors: (1) the support of family and friends and (2) a strong personal commitment to their values concerning the practice of law. America’s first female lawyers also changed the face of their communities through interacting personally with their neighbors; the woman attorney displayed her unique talents and capabilities on an individual level to those around her. Personal connections with peers, family, classmates, and others allowed the early female attorney to promote her career, enrich her society, and make a way for the female lawyers of the future."

Sheree Martinek, Improving Indigent Defense: An Evaluation of Program Effectiveness for the California Defense Investigators Effectiveness for the California Defense Investigators Association’s Defense Investigator Training Academy Association’s Defense Investigator Training Academy. Masters Thesis in Public Administration, San Jose State University.
"The objective of this study is to analyze the effectiveness of the DIA's [California Defense Investigators Association] DITA [Defense Investigator Training Academy] program using the Kirkpatrick model of program evaluation as a theoretical framework. The findings of this research provide a useful contribution to the field of public administration and criminal justice, as the evaluation and empirical research may provide valuable insight into the program, profession of defense investigation, and highlight the need for effective training in organizations. "