Initial Appearance Campaign

Report: Ending Injustice: Solving the Initial Appearance Crisis

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. This report chronicles the resulting initial appearance crisis and highlights its devastating consequences. More importantly, it provides policymakers and advocates with actionable recommendations.

Metzger, P., Hoeffel, J., Meeks, K., & Sidi, S., Ending Injustice: Solving the Initial Appearance Crisis, Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center (October 2021).

Article: Criminal (Dis)Appearance

Amid the national conversation about criminal legal reform, this article is the first scholarly work to address the initial appearance crisis. Criminal (Dis)Appearance describes an epidemic of detention-without-process and explores the legal landscape that produced it. The article describes the Supreme Court's commitment to a narrow Fourth Amendment jurisprudence and critiques the Court's rejection of early-stage criminal due process rights. The authors explain how substantive and procedural due process establish the right to a prompt and thorough initial appearance. 

Pamela R. Metzger and Janet C. Hoeffel, Criminal (Dis)Appearance, 88 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 392 (2020).

Article: Early Intervention by Counsel: A Multi-Site Evaluation of the Presence of Counsel at Defendants’ First Appearances in Court

This is the final report of an NIJ-funded evaluation of the impact of counsel at first appearance (CAFA) in Upstate New York. The evaluation demonstrates that CAFA changed bail practices in several jurisdictions. Before the CAFA program, criminal defendants were unrepresented when their bail was set. After  CAFA, the frequency with which defendants were required to post bail declined, as did the amount of bail that was demanded. Ancillary observations suggest CAFA may also increase access to counsel, expedite case dispositions, and produce cost savings.

Alissa Worden, Andrew Davies, Reveka Shteynberg, and Kirstin Morgan, Early Intervention by Counsel: A Multi-Site Evaluation of the Presence of Counsel at Defendants’ First Appearances in Court, National Institute of Justice (April 2020).

Podcast: Pretrial Detention and Access to Courts: How to Safeguard Liberty and Justice During COVID-19

Listen to Deason Center Director Pamela Metzger discuss how COVID-19 exacerbates the initial appearance crisis.

Podcast: Detention Without Due Process

Listen to Pamela Metzger discuss why people disappear in jail for days, weeks, or months without seeing a judge or attorney with Brian L. Frye on Ipse Dixit.