California Focus Groups


Have you – or a close family member – ever been represented by a public defender or appointed counsel in a criminal case in California?  Are you an individual seeking to make a positive impact? Your voice matters! We are a research team conducting focus groups on the client experience with public defender and court-appointed counsel. The information about your experiences will help identify needed reforms and tell an important story. 


Focus Group Information

Who is conducting this study and why?

The Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center is a non-partisan criminal justice reform center at SMU Dedman School of Law.  We were selected to conduct a study on California public defense which will be provided to the California legislature in early 2024.


Who do you want to talk to?

We are looking for people who have been represented by a public defender or court-appointed counsel in a California criminal case or close family members of such people.


Does it matter how the case turned out?

No. We would be happy to talk to anyone who has faced criminal charges, regardless of the case outcome.


What do you want us to do?

We are asking you to attend a focus group of no more than two hours to discuss your experiences, including challenges, solutions, and opportunities for improvement.


Where will the focus groups take place?

The focus groups will take place online via Zoom


When will the focus groups happen?

Focus groups will take place in the summer and fall of 2024 (June-October).


Will everyone be selected?

Probably not. We are looking for a diverse group of participants who were represented by public defenders or court-appointed counsel throughout California. But we will use as many people as we can.


Why should I participate?

  • Your voice matters: Share your experiences and perspectives to influence positive change.
  • Empowerment: Be part of a supportive environment where your input is valued and respected.


Will our comments be kept private?

Yes. Individuals whose comments are used in the final report will not be identified by name. Your identity will not be shared with anyone outside of the research team. In the focus group you can use your first or last name only if you wish.


Will participants be paid?

Yes. Your time is valuable.  Participants will receive a stipend for participating in a focus group.


How do I sign-up?

Please fill out this brief online form.


Can I share this with others?

Yes! If you know someone who might be interested, please share the link to this page and encourage them to sign up as well.


If you have additional questions, please email