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Counsel Type in Federal Criminal Court Cases, 2015-18

NCJ Number
Kelly Roberts Freeman; Bryce Peterson; Richard Hartley
Date Published
May 2022
35 pages

This document reports on a study to determine variation of counsel type across several key variables related to case processing, legal case characteristics, impacts on incarceration and sentence length, and more; research study's methodology, description of variables, analytic strategy, and results of the descriptive statistics and regression analysis.


This paper was prepared by the Urban Institute for BJS to enhance understanding of the topic and to encourage discussion. It examines the role that the type of defense counsel plays in federal justice system outcomes. BJS funded a study of the variation of counsel type across numerous measures related to case processing, legal case characteristics, and extra-legal factors, as well as the relationship between type of counsel and two critical sentencing decisions: incarceration and sentence length. The types of counsel examined include public defenders, assigned counsel, and private attorneys.