05 June 2005

Should Indigent Defense Go To the Lowest Bidder?

Over at Have Opinion, Will Travel, the question above is raised because the Brits seem about to put there indigent defense up for bids. This is not the way it works in Virginia but I have some recollection of reading that it already happens in some States. I have vague memories that Texas, Louisiana, and Missouri have this sort of system.

Anyone out there from a State which contracts out indigent defense? Feel free to enlighten us as to how it works.

1 comment:

Gideon said...

We don't contract out indigent defense as a whole, but there is a category of attorneys who are "special public defenders" who enter into contracts with the state/pd's office, to be paid at a fixed rate: something like $55 an hour for in court and so on... They get assigned cases with conflicts or if caseloads are too high.

I read the article that Have Opinion was referring to and I doubt if such a system would survive in this country. There are far too many safeguards and procedural requirements that would have to be compromised for indigent defense to be "sold" to the lowest bidder and for all of us to arrive at "stipulations".

It certainly might help in speeding up a trial, but it would severely curtail that notion of having the state prove each and every element...