The NSIDS was designed to be a census of all indigent defense delivery methods. In 2013, this survey was sent to state-administered indigent defense systems in 28 states and the District of Columbia. The 22 states that were county-administered were collected separately from the state-administered collection.
State-administered indigent defense systems that handled felony cases, and included data on all of the other cases handled by that system including misdemeanors, juvenile, appellate, and civil cases. The universe did not include indigent defense provided in tribal or municipal court systems. County-administered indigent defense systems data were collected separately.
State-administered indigent defense system
The data provide information on the indigent system itself, including indigent system financial information, types of cases for which the indigent defense system provided representation, the number of cases the indigent system has closed by type, whether the system has guidelines regarding attorney workload, how the system handles attorney conflicts of interest, and whether the system uses an electronic Management Information System (MIS), and if so what information was available to attorneys via that system.
Information is also provided regarding the staff working within the system, including the full-time/part-time status, number, and types of personnel paid by the indigent defense system, how each system handles out of pocket expenses, whether performance reviews are conducted, the salary ranges for attorney positions within the system and how each system selects chief executives, including the term (if any), competitiveness, and rate of pay. Also addressed are which guidelines are used to determine if a client is indigent, and whether the indigent defense system has an advisory board or commission, who appoints members of the board/commission, and the authority the board/commission has. Variables also include information on Continuing Legal Education (CLE).