The Missouri Project: A Study of the Missouri Defender System and Attorney Workload Standards

Source: RubinBrown, January 2014

This report lays out the methodology, analysis, and results of the joint efforts of the MSPD, the ABA, and RubinBrown to develop data- supported work load standards. Although this effort is not the end of the process, it is a critical first step in establishing supportable, data-driven workload standards that can assist the MSPD in assessing staffing requirements and provide empirical support to determine maximum workloads.

The Department of Justice’s National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals established criteria for assessing maximum case loads in 1973 (the “NAC Standards”). However, MSPD’s recent application of the NAC Standards has been criticized by the Missouri State Auditor and the National Center for State Courts (“NCSC”). Both the Missouri State Auditor and the NCSC concluded:
• MSPD’s protocol “suffers significantly from its failure to depart from NAC case load standards,”
• The protocol suffers “from its apparent inability to make fuller use of a 2006 time study,” and
• “Our review of the calculations and available data supporting the case load protocol noted the MSPD lacks sufficient support for the data and methodology used for protocol calculations.”…

… Excessive workloads result in insufficient time available to provide reasonably effective assistance of Counsel to all clients. As in prior studies of this type, this study required a means to identify areas where MSPD attorneys reported they often did not have sufficient time to complete certain tasks with reasonable effectiveness. …
See also:
Public Defenders, Bolstered by a Work Analysis and Rulings, Push Back Against a Tide of Cases
Source: Erik Eckholm, New York Times, February 18, 2014