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Notable Recent Publications - December, 2021

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

Journal Article

Rebecca Wexler, Privacy Asymmetries: Access to Data in Criminal Defense Investigations, 68 UCLA Law Review, 212.

"'[P]rivacy asymmetries'... are privacy statutes that permit courts to order disclosures of sensitive information when requested by law enforcement, but not when requested by criminal defense counsel.... [S]electively suppressing defense investigations means selectively suppressing evidence of innocence. Privacy asymmetries...risk unnecessary harms to criminal defendants, as well as to the truth-seeking process of the judiciary, by advantaging the search for evidence of guilt over that for evidence of innocence... [T]hese harms will only increase in the digital economy as private companies collect immense quantities of data.... relevant to criminal investigations, and available to the accused solely through the very defense subpoenas that privacy asymmetries block.... [L]egislators drafting privacy statutes should include a default symmetrical savings provision for law enforcement and defense investigators alike."

Paper posted online

Andrew J. Lee Flat Fee Compensation, Lawyer Incentives, and Case Outcomes in Indigent Criminal Defense.

".... This paper assesses whether compensation structures impact the quality of legal representation that indigent defense lawyers provide by examining a natural experiment in North Carolina.... I find that changing lawyer compensation from an hourly to a flat fee basis led to defendants being 11% more likely to be convicted and 37% more likely to be incarcerated, a result driven by an increase in guilty pleas.... [L]awyers reported spending 11% fewer hours on indigent cases, disposed of cases 25% sooner on average, and were 36% more likely to dispose a case on the same day as their first meeting with the defendant. I do not find evidence of significant changes in lawyer composition or migration, although I find that some lawyers with consistent new private casework as an outside option are less likely to continue accepting indigent cases...."

Call for Papers

"Empirical Problems on Legal Defense in Latin America", to be published in Crime, Law and Social Change. Edited by Gustavo Fondevila, Law Department, Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE), Mexico, and Ludmila Ribeiro, Department of Sociology, Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG). Brazil.

[From the website:] "In this special issue, we expect to receive studies that contribute to the knowledge regarding the role played by the Legal Defense Institutions in Latin America in the institutionalization of a more adversarial criminal justice system and the deconstruction of inquisitorial characteristics. All submissions should have a strong methodological focus/sensitivity. Comparative research of cases from different Latin American contexts can enrich theoretical concepts and policy implications in this area."