Today's Austin American-Statesman reports, "Travis County digging into data to improve indigent defense in court." It's by Jazmine Ulloa. Here'a the beginning:
Behind the push for a private defender’s office in Travis County is the need to improve the quality of representation for those with the greatest need. But lawyers appointed to defend the poor want to know how a new body would evaluate their work when each of their cases is unique.
The answer, court and county officials say, is adding science to a profession long considered an art.
Like three other pilot sites chosen in a national project, Travis County is undertaking a study of its current $8.5 million indigent defense system, collecting a variety of statistics that judges say will help them improve efficiency of the courts and lead to better resolutions for the accused. But the county is taking its own analysis one step further, compiling even more detailed data at the local level that officials say could be used to objectively vet attorneys chosen as counsel for the indigent.
The efforts come as a proposal to create an office of Travis County Private Defender faces its final hurdle next month, when county commissioners are to vote on whether to accept $717,500 in state grant money to fund it. If established, the nonprofit — under the control of the defense bar — would assign lawyers to the cases of poor defendants, determine pay for their work and derive a set of standards to evaluate the quality of representation.
Related posts are in the indigent defense category index.