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Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly

Authors

Norman Lefstein

Abstract

Excessive caseloads among public defenders in the United States is a pervasive national problem, which not only often prevents lawyers from furnishing their clients competent and diligent representation as required by rules of professional conduct but also jeopardizes the quality of justice in criminal and juvenile courts. Although the American Bar Association has addressed the problem in various policy statements, including its Criminal Justice Standards, Professor Lefstein argues that there are still issues that are not adequately covered. Specifically, he argues that the ABA should consider the development of standards that (1) authorize defenders to refuse to provide representation when it is obvious that they are overloaded with far too many cases; and (2) reject the role of prosecutors in opposing defense motions aimed at controlling their caseloads.

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