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Appointed Counsel for Indigent Criminal Appellants: Does Compensation Influence Effort?

NCJ Number
Justice System Journal Volume: 21 Issue: 1 Dated: 1999 Pages: 57-79
Richard E. Priehs
Date Published
23 pages
This study examined attorneys' reported hours in handling indigent defendants' appeals and found that the extent of attorneys' efforts did not vary significantly in relation to the methods or rates of compensation used.
In 1988 the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System (MAACS) implemented a form: MAACS Statement of Service and Order for Payment of Court Appointed Counsel. MAACS designed the form to analyze services rendered by appointed appellate counsel. Data were compiled from 1,582 Statement of Service forms, using the primary "system types" described in this paper. The examined forms represented approximately half of the appointed counsel work for 1992 and 1993, the last 2 years MAACS collected the data. The data quantify attorneys' time as a means for evaluating appointed counsels' services. This study assessed "total services" from a compilation of the following specific tasks: record review, client visit, other client contact, trial court motions/evidentiary hearings, brief (research/write), and oral argument. Attorney time-related performance was examined under each of three compensation systems: hourly systems, hourly systems with maximum limitations, and fee schedule systems. In 14 comparisons, there was no discernible influence of rate or method of compensation on the services provided. Study limitations are discussed, along with systemic implications and role theory implications of the findings. 3 tables, 61 references, and 6 case references


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