Guidelines for Legal Defense Systems in the United States (1976)

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From 1974 to 1976, following consultations with the Attorney General and the Administrator of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association convened a 35-member National Study Commission on Defense Services, with LEAA grant support. The Commission's charter was to utilize the standards developed by the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and goals in 1973 as a "basic underpinning for an extensive study of defense services aimed at preparing a blueprint of guidelines and procedures which would meet the nation's indigent defense needs." The National Study Commission was divided into six topical Task Forces: 1) Scope of Services, Eligibility and Recoupment; 2) Workload, Manpower and Budget Projections; 3) Defender System Structure; 4) Internal Defender Office Structure; 5) Assigned Counsel System Structure; and 6) The Defense Attorney's Role in Diversion and Plea Bargaining. Following extensive study and the preparation of a Draft Report, a three-day National Colloquium on the Future of Defender Services was convened in 1976 in Washington, DC, to which were invited all state chief justices, state bar presidents, LEAA state planning agency executive directors, and defender program heads from around the country. The Colloquium produced some 60 commentaries upon the Draft Report, which was then further reviewed by the Commission and Colloquium participants. The black letter "Summary of Recommendations" printed here constitutes 20 pages of the Commission's 560-page Final Report, omitting extensive commentary and discussion.

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I. Availability of Representation

Guideline 1.1 Nature of Cases and Proceedings for Which Counsel Should be Provided

Guideline 1.2 Time of Entry

Guideline 1.3 Procedures for Providing Early Representation: Program Responsibilities

Guideline 1.4 Procedures for Providing Early Representation: Law Enforcement Responsibilities

Guideline 1.5 Financial Eligibility Criteria

Guideline 1.6 Method of Determining Financial Eligibility

Guideline 1.7 Partial Eligibility

II.  Structure of Systems for Defense of Eligible Persons

Guideline 2.1    Administrative Structures for Mixed Systems

Guideline 2.2   Allocation of Cases

Guideline 2.3    Ad Hoc Appointment of Counsel

Guideline 2.4   State Level Organization with Centralized Administration

Guideline 2.5 Preexisting Agencies in a State Defender System

Guideline 2.6 Private Defender Organizations

Guideline 2.7 Location of Defender Offices

Guideline 2.8 Regionalization of Defender Services

Guideline 2.9 Full-time Defenders and Minimum Staff Size

Guideline 2.10 The Defender Commission

Guideline 2.11 Functions of the Defender Commission

Guideline 2.12 Qualifications of the Defender Director and Conditions of Employment

Guideline 2.13 The Governing Body for Assigned Counsel Programs

Guideline 2.14 Qualifications, Conditions of Employment, and Role of the Administrator

Guideline 2.15 Establishing the Assigned Counsel Panel

Guideline 2.16 Assignment of Cases to Panel Members

Guideline 2.17 Sources of Funding for Defense Systems

Guideline 2.18 Administration of Defense System Funds

III. The Cost of Providing Counsel

Guideline 3.1 Assigned Counsel Fees and Supporting Services

Guideline 3.2 Defender System Salaries

Guideline 3.3 Projecting Defense System Personnel Needs

Guideline 3.4 Nonpersonnel Needs in Defender Offices

IV. Tailoring Specifications to Diverse Defender Programs

Guideline 4.1 Task Allocation in the Trial Function: Specialists and Supporting Services

Guideline 4.2 Task Allocation and Supporting Services in Rural Programs

Guideline 4.3 Relationship of Appellate and Trial Functions; Task Allocation

Guideline 4.4 Use of Law Students

Guideline 4.5 Prisoner Legal Assistance Programs

V. Core Questions Relating to Internal Operations

Guideline 5.1 Establishing Maximum Pending Workload Levels for Individual Attorneys

Guideline 5.2 Statistics and Record‑keeping

Guideline 5.3 Elimination of Excessive Caseloads

Guideline 5.4 Supervision and Evaluation of Defender System Personnel

Guideline 5.5 Monitoring and Evaluation of Assigned Counsel Program Personnel

Guideline 5.6 Accreditation and Specialization

Guideline 5.7 Training Staff Attorneys in a Defender System

Guideline 5.8 Training Assigned Counsel

Guideline 5.9 Recruitment, Hiring, Promotion and Removal of Defender Office Personnel

Guideline 5.10 Attorney, Client Relationships in a Defense System

Guideline 5.11 Continuity of Representation

Guideline 5.12 Choice of Counsel in Defense Systems

Guideline 5.13 Role in the Community and the Criminal Justice System