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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77383 Find in a Library
Title: Case Processing in State Misdemeanor Courts - The Effect of Defense Attorney Presence (From Misdemeanor Courts - Policy Concerns and Research Perspectives, P 137-159, 1980, James J Alfini, ed. - See NCJ-77379)
Author(s): J J Alfini; P M Passuth
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 23
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Relationships between defense attorney presence and case processing in misdemeanor courts are examined, based primarily on the results of a national survey of misdemeanor court judges.
Abstract: The judges polled were asked a series of questions to determine whether case processing differences can be tied to the frequency of defense attorney presence in their courts. Specific issues surveyed were the extent of defense attorney presence in State misdemeanor courts, the effect of defense attorney presence on guilty plea rates, the effect of defense attorney presence on case processing, and the effect of defense attorney presence on the judges' perceptions of case-processing pressure and delay. A comparison of the perceptions of judges in courts where defense counsel are frequently present with those in courts where defense counsel are infrequently present found no significant differences in the judges' perceptions of caseload pressure or their ability to maintain current workloads. Data further indicate that although guilty plea rates are somewhat lower in courts where defense counsel are more frequently present, they are not dramatically lower. Other studies suggest that trial rates are not appreciably influenced by the presence of defense counsel. Rather, defendants with counsel are more likely to be benefited in other ways, such as increased likelihood of having cases dismissed or receiving charge or sentence concessions through the plea bargaining process. On the other hand, the data do show that the case process in courts where defense counsel are frequently present is more 'stretched-out' than in courts where misdemeanor defendants are infrequently represented. In particular, a lower percentage of cases are disposed at initial appearance, and cases tend to have more stages in courts where defense counsel are more frequently present. This may provide for more individualized treatment without exacting unacceptable administrative burdens. Three notes and 17 references are listed; tabular data from the survey are provided. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Court case flow management; Defense services; Judges; Misdemeanor; Surveys
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