Published on: Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Public defenders face extremely heavy workloads that prevent them from providing effective legal representation to people accused of crimes, according to a new study published Tuesday.

The National Public Defense Workload Study, which looked at the 50-year-old guidelines that are used to estimate the maximum number of cases that defense attorneys should handle, found that the commonly used standards are out of date and inapplicable today, in part because cases now tend to involve complex forensic data or technology that wasn't present before.

"Public defenders and other providers of indigent defense grapple with an overwhelming caseload that exceeds the reasonable capacity for effective representation, but the available data about the magnitude of this issue has been inadequate and outdated," ABA President said in a statement accompanying the release of the study.