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Notable Recent Publications - May, 2022

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


Kimberly M. Davidson , Brian J. Ostrom & Matthew Kleiman, Client Perspectives of Holistic Defense: Strengthening Procedural Justice through Enhanced Client Trust. Justice System Journal.
...We examine public defense from the client perspective through in-depth interviews (n = 36) coded deductively, comparing the experiences of clients of holistic defense (n = 20) with those of traditional public defense (n = 16). We find that distrust and cynicism are pervasive in both client samples, but the holistic defense model provides tangible ways to build trust with clients, bolster perceptions of procedural justice, enhance legal and extra-legal client outcomes, and increase client satisfaction... We demonstrate that, in addition to both legal and extra-legal client benefits, holistic defense has the capacity to build client trust and bolster perceptions of procedural justice.

Brian J. Ostrom & Jordan Bowman, The Evolving Character of Public Defense: Comparing Criminal Case Processing Effectiveness and Outcomes across Holistic Public Defense, Traditional Public Defense, and Privately Retained Counsel. vol. 30, Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal, 611-657.
"...Our primary analysis examines felony cases handled by holistic public defenders in the Hennepin County District Court and compares results with those obtained by privately retained attorneys in Hennepin County, as well as public defenders who practice a more traditional form of defense in the adjacent counties of Ramsey and Anoka.... Both holistic and traditional public defenders resolve their cases more quickly than privately retained counsel, scheduling cases more effectively by reducing the number of continuances and requiring about 1.5 fewer hearings per disposition.... Public defenders, both holistic and traditional, are as successful as privately retained attorneys in achieving favorable outcomes for their clients.... [C]lients represented by holistic defenders in Hennepin County received an expected sentence that is approximately four months shorter than do clients represented by private counsel...

Ludmila Ribeiro, Alexandre M. A. Diniz & Livia Bastos Lages, Decision-Making in an Inquisitorial System: Lessons from Brazil. Law & Society Review.
This paper seeks to understand how decision-making works at the first appearance hearings (Custody Hearings) in Brazil, an initiative that intends to make the Brazilian criminal justice system more accusatorial. We used primary data gathered in the hearings between April and December 2018 in nine Brazilian states. Binary logistic regression models were applied to identify the variables that affect the odds ratios of pretrial detention. Results indicated a high level of homology between the prosecutors’ requests and the judges’ decisions, even when controlling for the characteristics of offense and offender, which precludes any direct openness to the defense. Decision-making in the Custody Hearing reinforces the inquisitorial characteristics and the institutional features of the Brazilian Criminal Justice System, suggesting that the reforms carried out over the last years were not able to change how actors operate on a daily basis.


Andrew L. B. Davies, Blane Skiles, Pamela Metzger, Janelle Gursoy & Alex Romo, Getting Gideon Right: Eligibility for Appointed Counsel in Texas Misdemeanor Cases, Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center.
[From the website:] "In Gideon v. Wainwright, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the government must provide a criminal defense lawyer for any accused person who cannot afford one. But for too many people, Gideon's promise remains unfulfilled. In Texas, there are no statewide guidelines about who is entitled to a court-appointed lawyer. Instead, counties create their own rules that create serious gaps in constitutional protection. Getting Gideon Right investigates the financial standards that determine an accused person's eligibility for appointed counsel in Texas county courts. The report reveals a patchwork of county court policies that are both complex and severe."


Andrew Davies, Victoria Smiegocki, Sarah Gammell, Gregory Guggenmos, (March 18, 2022) Everything you need to know about empirical research in indigent defense. National Association for Public Defense.
[From the conference program:] "We review the field of empirical research into indigent/public defense, highlighting the increasing interest among defenders in data and assessment. We will talk about some of the reasons defenders get involved in research both as 'subjects' (being investigated by outsiders) and as researchers (investigating themselves). We will talk about how to negotiate relationships with researchers who want to work with you. And we will highlight new and innovative approaches to research that go beyond statistical analysis which defenders may not have thought of before, including methods that involve web scraping, geographic mapping, and synthetic control."


Data-Driven Public Defense Policy with Stephen Hanlon Public Defenseless.
[From the show notes:] "In today’s episode, I speak with Stephen Hanlon, who has been working for over 30 years to drive forward public interest law. With the depth of his experience to back him up, he’ll explain how data is the key to pushing forward legislation and law suits that can help to reshape and empower public defense. When advocating for a change to any system, there has to be multi-faceted approaches. Some people respond well to the emotional stories. For others, it is data they find the most compelling, and that is what Stephen brings to the table. Data to help bolster the compelling stories of defenders and their clients from around the country. Stephen Hanlon holds a tremendous amount of wisdom and his passion for bettering the system will inspire you to take action!"