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Case Weighting Systems for the Public Defender - A Handbook for Budget Preparation

NCJ Number
Date Published
52 pages

This handbook describes the ingredients necessary for developing case weights -- estimates of the amount of effort needed to bring cases to disposition -- so that managers of public defender services can understand the scope of work involved in this procedure and its role in the budget process.


Initially, two scenarios show how case weights can play a role in resolving some budget questions, introduce the logic of case weights, and highlight their relevance to work, resources, and budget justification. The handbook discusses applying the case weighting system to budget presentations and the effects of criminal justice system change on the defender workload. An overview of the types of information needed to develop case weighting systems identifies personnel data that agencies should collect and explains how case weights can be derived from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association's AMICUS system. It describes techniques for calculating what resources are currently available through the present budget, what remains to do the work after personnel benefits, and how to isolate work hours related to criminal case processing. Also examined are questions which might arise at the budget examination. Data from public defender agencies in Honolulu; Lincoln, Neb.; and Nashville, Tenn., illustrate the discussions. A statistical appendix provides a brief description of the methodology used to generate the case weights and the results of multiple regression analysis. Tables and over 60 references are included.

Date Published: January 1, 1985