HD46 - Cost Effectiveness of Public Defender Offices

Executive Summary:
Information for the Crime Commission's study concerning public defender offices was collected through the use of interviews, informal working groups, and discussions with representatives of the Virginia Supreme Court, the Public Defender Commission and the Virginia State Bar. Dr. James Creech, of the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission, provided the technical assistance for the creation of a statistical database containing information regarding court appointed counsel for indigent defendants. The Commission made the following recommendations:

• The Crime Commission should introduce a joint resolution requesting the Supreme Court in conjunction with the Public Defender Commission to study the system by which counsel is assigned to indigent defendants in Virginia. The study should:

1.) evaluate if the jurisdictions of the Commonwealth are employing a "fair system of rotation among members of the bar"; and

2.) include detailed descriptions of the mechanisms that both the courts and the public defender offices use to assign counsel to indigent cases.

• Statutory caps for court-appointed counsel should be raised to provide reasonable compensation for court-appointed counsel.