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NLADA Standards  | American Bar Association  | Compendium of Indigent Defense Standards

From Redefining Leadership for Equal Justice: Final Report of the National Symposium on Indigent Defense 2000 (Office of Justice Programs/Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice, 2001), at 14: (pdf document)

Standards are the key to uniform quality in all essential governmental functions. In the indigent defense area, uniform application of standards at the state or national level is an important means of limiting arbitrary disparities in the quality of representation based solely on the location in which a prosecution is brought. The quality of justice that an innocent person receives should not vary unpredictably among neighboring counties. If two people are charged with identical offenses in adjoining jurisdictions, one should not get a public defender with an annual caseload of 700 while the other s has 150; one should not get an appointed private lawyer who is paid a quarter of what the other s lawyer is paid; one should not be denied resources for a DNA test, or an expert or an investigator, while the other gets them; one should not get a lawyer who is properly trained, experienced and supervised, while the other gets a neophyte. The constitutional right to effective representation joins with the guarantee of equal justice to compel the nationwide implementation of indigent defense standards.

From Improving Criminal Justice Systems Through Expanded Strategies and Innovative Collaborations: Report of the National Symposium on Indigent Defense (Office of Justice Programs/Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice, 2000), Executive Summary.

"Standards are the most effective means of ensuring uniform quality of indigent defense services. States and localities have adopted standards in a variety of ways, including by court decision, statute, court rules, and incorporation into indigent defense services contracts; enforcement mechanisms include requiring local compliance as a condition of supplemental State funding."

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