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.
Gauging Improvement in Defense Efforts and Outcomes in New York (GIDEON) investigates the impact of New York State’s increased funding of public defense. The study explores whether reductions in indigent defense caseloads produce higher quality lawyering and considers how caseload reductions impact clients and their communities.
Conducted in collaboration with Paul Heaton at the Quattrone Center, this empirical research project compares case outcomes obtained by four public defense subdivisions of the King County Department of Public Defense. Preliminary results (previewed at a 2020 CJR Workshop) suggest distinct organizational characteristics and outcomes.
Most Americans expect that, if they are arrested, they will quickly appear before a judge, learn about the charges, and have an attorney assigned to defend them. The reality is vastly different. After arrest, a person can wait in jail for days, weeks, or even months before seeing a judge or meeting an attorney. Read our report and recommendations.
Using advanced HTML scraping techniques, Deason researchers successfully gathered and merged county-level jail and court data from three Iowa sites. This proof-of-concept project demonstrates that online public records can provide researchers with valuable information, such as how long defendants wait in jail before their first court appearance.
Defense attorneys have a constitutional duty to investigate their clients’ cases, and that duty includes reviewing the evidence provided by prosecutors. Using event log data from electronic discovery transfers, the Center is studying the associations between a defendant's race and the timing and frequency of their lawyer's discovery review.
The Indigent Defense Research Association (IDRA) is a community of practitioners, researchers, funders, and policy analysts committed to improving public defense through research and data. The Center hosts IDRA’s monthly webinars and provides logistical support for its annual meetings at the American Society of Criminology.
The Center’s representation of Troy Rhodes vindicates the right to counsel. Represented at trial by an overworked public defender, Mr. Rhodes was convicted and sentenced to 149 years in jail. Sixteen years later, the Deason Center persuaded a federal court that Mr. Rhodes' trial lawyer was constitutionally ineffective and obtained an order for a new trial.
Through a data-focused assessment of federal public defense practice, the Deason Center is exploring factors that shape client outcomes. The Center launched this project with a single federal defender office and hopes to repeat the study in other jurisdictions, aggregating the data to identify which practices are associated with improved case outcomes.