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Notable Recent Publications - June 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


Madhuri Sharma, Lisa Stolzenberg, Stewart J.D'Alessio, Evaluating the cumulative impact of indigent defense attorneys on criminal justice outcomes. Journal of Criminal Justice.

This study utilizes meta-analysis to synthesize estimates of the impact of public defenders and assigned counsel on the severity of imposed legal sanction at several decision points... While public defenders and assigned counsel have some notable effects on specific court outcomes such as pretrial detention and sentencing, the meta-analysis results show that they are just as successful overall as private attorneys in representing their clients' interests. The defendant's indigent status most likely explains why the clients of public defenders and assigned counsel may sometimes confront more severe sanctioning because the effects of pretrial confinement reverberate throughout the entire criminal justice system...

Elizabeth Webster The Postconviction Workgroup: Cooperation Between Adversaries in Exoneration Cases. Criminal Justice Policy Review.

During postconviction innocence review, prosecutors and defense attorneys can set aside their adversarial roles and cooperate on case reinvestigation and resolution. This dynamic makes the postconviction setting especially worthy for a study of attorney workgroup relationships... [T]his study explores how attorneys cooperate and even collaborate to investigate potential wrongful convictions. It employs semistructured interviews with 19 defense attorneys and 20 prosecutors who have each helped exonerate a wrongfully convicted defendant. Results demonstrate that prosecutors valued open communication and transparency, ample time to review the case, and diplomacy and tact in protecting the reputation of the prosecutors’ office. For example, prosecutors and defense attorneys may engage in postconviction negotiations regarding media strategies and misconduct allegations. These results may help guide policy proposals that promote the independence and integrity of postconviction innocence review. 

James A. Cates Plain Trials: Culture and Competence in the Courtroom. Plain Anabaptist Journal

The presence of Plain people in the justice system historically involves civil disputes. A more recent trend is the presence of Plain people as criminal defendants. In tandem with their appearance in criminal proceedings is the question for some of competence to stand trial. Competence assumes a factual understanding of the legal process, the ability to assist counsel in preparing a defense, and an appreciation of the charges and case. In the decades since the Supreme Court ruled on competence, the evolution of definition, criteria, and assessment have focused on mental capacity and deficits. The contribution of culture has been marginalized. This article reviews the elements of competence to stand trial and restoration of that competence when it is lacking and applies them to Plain people. Two case studies demonstrate the impact of culture. Rarely considered, culture can have a profound influence on comprehension and appreciation of the judicial process and exacerbates issues of competency for a defendant who presents with cognitive impairments.

Donald M. Linhorst, David Kondrat, Jacob Eikenberry & P. Ann Dirks-Linhorst Associations Between Legal Representation and Mental Health Court Outcomes. American Journal of Criminal Justice.

....The results of the bivariate and logistic regression analyses found defendants represented by defense attorneys were more likely to choose not to participate in the MMHC, to resolve their criminal charges without court supervision, to participate in initial court hearings, and to successfully complete the MMHC program.


Kelly Roberts Freeman, Bryce Peterson, Richard Hartley, Counsel Type in Federal Criminal Court Cases, 2015-18. Report to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, NCJ number 304552.
"This paper examines the role that the type of defense counsel plays in federal justice system outcomes. We begin with a background on federal indigent defense systems and a review of the prior research examining the impact of counsel type on sentencing. We then describe the study and present our descriptive results, which explore the frequency and variation in the use of each type of defense counsel (public defenders, assigned counsel, and private attorneys) and other key variables (disposition, incarceration decision, sentence length, year, district, case, and defendant characteristics). Next, we model the outcomes of incarceration and sentence length to test whether type of counsel significantly impacts these decisions after controlling for legal and extra-legal factors. Lastly, the results are summarized and situated in a broader understanding of the federal justice system." 


Julienne Long, Phenomenological Perceptions of Judges, Attorneys, and Victim Service Professionals Regarding Stalking Victimization. Walden University

[T]he purpose of this study was to explore how judges, attorneys, and victim service professionals perceive stalking victimization. Through a qualitative, phenomenological inquiry, six judges, six attorneys, and eight victim service professionals in the state of Ohio were interviewed.... [S]ix categories were identified: risk factors, stereotypes, treatment, accountability, support and improving systems.... Understanding the perceptions and experiences of judges, attorneys, and victims service professionals provided a voice to a population that is not often considered in the literature: stalking victims.