The primary purpose of this study was to examine (1) how indigent defense providers have implemented the principles of holistic defense in practice, (2) how holistic defense practices vary among providers, (3) what factors have facilitated or impeded implementation of holistic defense practices, and (4) to analyze, drawing on client-level data, the influence that holistic defense practices have on case outcomes for holistic defense clients as compared to traditional public defense.
The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) evaluated the implementation of holistic defense practices at three public defender offices: the Department of Public Advocacy in Bowling Green, Kentucky; the Hennepin County Public Defender in Minneapolis, Minnesota; and the Rhode Island Public Defender in Providence County, Rhode Island.
In all offices, on-site interviews were performed with attorneys, judges, social workers, investigators, and others with knowledge of practices at the site. Following the interviews, a survey of attitudes toward holistic defense and perception of practices at the site was administered. Only limited data on cases and outcomes was available from each of the public defender offices, restricting the scope of empirical analyses conducted. However, in Hennepin and two adjacent Minnesota counties, administrative data was provided by the Minnesota Supreme Court and Minnesota Sentencing Commission that allowed for a comprehensive analysis comparing client outcomes among holistic public defense, traditional public defense, and private counsel. In addition, client interviews were conducted to compare client perspective on the quality of representation between the holistic model of representation in Hennepin County and more traditional public defense in neighboring Ramsey County.
Longitudinal: Trend / Repeated Cross-section