Boise State’s Idaho Policy Institute, under contract with the State Public Defense Commission, has just completed the most comprehensive study of the public defense system in Idaho to date. Over the course of the past year, public defenders across Idaho tracked time spent on cases and participated in a time sufficiency survey. Then, experts in criminal defense participated in a Delphi Panel to assess how much time attorneys should be spending on different cases.

The report contains the results of the study that serve as the first step towards the creation of a workload standard by the PDC.

With the collaboration of public defense stakeholders including County Commissioners, County Clerks and Public Defenders, the PDC will work towards the creation of a workload standard that ensures Idaho’s public defenders have adequate time to provide constitutional representation to every one of their indigent clients. The study itself does not recommend a workload standard, but it provides essential qualitative and quantitative data to inform discussions so the development of a workload standard can begin. Data of this kind has been completely unavailable in Idaho until now. Prior to the collection of this data, a report released in 2010 by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) considered eight (8) Idaho counties and concluded Idaho’s public defenders handled workloads that exceed national standards.

The PDC cautions readers not to jump to conclusions based upon what they read in the report. The PDC’s goal is to support counties as they ensure public defenders can meet constitutional obligations to Idaho’s indigent defendants while providing information to policymakers regarding the resources that will be required for counties to meet those obligations. The PDC is committed to the creation of a workload standard that, as the report insists, considers case complexity, access to resources, and other characteristics of criminal defense cases including, but not limited to, language barriers, legal issues, and travel time. The study and calculation of workload and related workload standards is an ongoing process whose success depends on collaboration with stakeholders.
To read the report, click here: Idaho Workload Study