Innovation

              

Indigent Defense Innovation

 

Indigent Defense Innovation

In this 2018 series, TIDC catalogs innovations in indigent defense that can make lawyers more effective, efficient advocates. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Digital Communication

 

Digital Communication

Ongoing, confidential client communication is critical to effective representation. But time and distance sometimes make it difficult for attorneys and clients to connect. New technologies—including videoconferencing, automated calling, and texting—are now making it easier for lawyers to communicate with their clients. Read more.

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Attorney Checklists 

Attorney Checklists

Renowned surgeon Dr. Atul Gawande studied why people often die from surgery. He found that basic tasks, like washing with soap, were the cause of death in more than half of the cases. As procedures become more complex, people forget small but important details. He argues that there is a low-cost, low-tech solution to this modern problem: checklists. In his book, The Checklist Manifesto, Dr. Gawande illustrates how major industries have used concise, step-by-step instructions to save lives and money. Read more.

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Automation 

Automation

Court processes are often technical and obscure. That’s why legal counsel is so important. Yet some legal work remains consistent from case to case. By automating certain tasks, defendants can more easily get the guidance they need, and attorneys can do more with less. Read more.

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Participatory Defense 

Participatory Defense

Participatory defense invites family and friends of those accused of a crime to help with their defense. Family members are often the best historians and are dedicated to recounting personal history to help mitigate a loved one’s sentence. Read more.

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Early Representation 

Early Representation

Lack of early representation puts defendants at a disadvantage that is often difficult and costly to correct later. Providing immediate representation to arrestees benefits not only individuals, but counties and communities as well. Read more.

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Restorative Justice 

Restorative Justice

Restorative justice focuses on repairing injuries caused by criminal offenses and addressing the underlying reasons for defendants’ actions. By creating a platform for defendants and victims of crime to speak to each other and determine tangible ways to repair harm done, restorative-justice-based programs increase victim satisfaction, encourage accountability, and reduce recidivism, creating safer communities. Read more.

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Restorative Justice 

Comprehensive Defense

Comprehensive defense looks beyond a criminal case to the root causes of criminal behavior. Too often, mental illness, substance abuse, or poverty drive recidivism. A comprehensive defense team, led by an attorney, brings together specialists like caseworkers and civil legal aid attorneys to identify and address these underlying issues. With the support of team members’ investigation and case planning, defense attorneys can focus on their area of expertise: legal advocacy. Read more.

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Online Dispute Resolution 

Online Dispute Resolution

In one year, eBay resolved over 60 million civil disputes through an online dispute resolution (ODR) platform. Criminal courts are now adopting similar technology. As Colin Rule, founder of online dispute resolution software Modria, explained, “There will always be cases that require the attention of skilled individuals. But we know we have a crisis of access to justice. Technology may be a way we help solve that problem.” Read more.

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Mentoring 

Mentoring

Traditional law school training fails to equip attorneys with the skills needed to provide effective representation. Most new lawyers start their own practice, learning through trial and error. This approach doesn’t guarantee attorneys learn how to provide competent representation. Mentoring programs can help. Read more.

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Attorney Checklists 

Workload Studies

Excessive caseloads prevent even the most highly qualified lawyers from delivering effective legal representation. Attorneys saddled with too many cases must jettison core legal tasks—client communication, investigation, legal research—in violation of constitutional and ethical duties. In its evaluation of the Harris County Public Defender, the Council of State Governments found that “the key to sustaining quality defense work is to ensure that caseloads remain manageable.” Workload standards do just that. Read more.

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Integrated Data Systems 

Integrated Data Systems

Errors and delays in criminal justice information sharing can cause cases to drag on and costs to spiral. When agencies go paperless, they can improve the accuracy of their information and the speed with which they collect and transmit it. When multiple agencies share this information electronically using integrated systems, these benefits multiply. Read more.

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