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Institute for Law and Policy Planning Allegheny County Office of the Public Defender Assessment Final Report 2008

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY
Office of the Public Defender
Assessment
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FINAL REPORT

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Presented to
Michael Wojcik
Allegheny County Solicitor
OCTOBER 20,

2008

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INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

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ALLEGHENY COUNlY OFFICE OF THE PUDUC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

ILPPTEAM
Alan Kalmanoff, JD, PhD, MSW
Project Director
Alice Lin, aD, MA, 2011)
Project Coordinator
Brian Taugher, JD
Defense, Prosecution, Courts, and IT
Joanne M. Brown, MSW, JD
Defense and Courts
Alice Lee
Research Assistant

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Research Assistant
Pat Parsons
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Terence Jensen
Research and Publication

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INSTITUTE I'OR LAW AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

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Jalluary 2009 • Page 2

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

October 20, 2008

Buard of Dircclurs
Alan Kalrnanoff, JO, MSW, Ph.D.
Board President

Execut;"e Director
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Michael Wojcik, County Solicitor
County of Allegheny, Solicitors Office
300 Fort Pitt Commons
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Dear Mr. Wojcik:
The attached report is ILPP's assessment of the Allegheny
County Office of the Public Defender (OPD). It is
addressed to you at your request as a means of ensuring
that the important defense function is properly
accomplished, and to provide suggestions
for
improvements in both service and cost-effectiveness.

Dr. Ulandh: Pl.:ilrJmaJl

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It is a privileged and confidential study, but of course it

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belongs to your office and you are free to release it in parts
or as a whole. It is preliminary inasmuch as there is very
little good data with which to make certain findings and
there are many related agencies that are instrumental, but
that were not studied.

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Ui13 HU.I.EGASS AVENUE
BmlKEI..E\', CA 947ll-l
MAIN: 510.486.8352
FAX: 510.841.3710
~nnl' ILPI'.COM
PIANNERS@ILPI'.COM

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Although the study provides warnings and makes findings
and recommendations which can be put into effect
immediately, it must be stressed that the defense function
is also impacted heavily by other agencies, including the
courts, prosecution, and related offices that serve
subpoenas, provide lab results, handle conflicts, and
participate in the broader arena of the administration of
justice.
In particular, the courts are extraordinarily important to
the public defender function. For example, complaints of
delays aimed at the defense may well be influenced as well
by other agencies, but could not occur vl'ithout the
involvement and allowance of the courts.
In many ways, beyond the findings and recommendations
of this study \vhich focus on the defense of indigents, there
is an underlying finding that the court system (which
includes prosecution and all the related offices noted
above) seems in need of a strengthened court case

LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

January 2009 • Page 3

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

management system and calendaring mechanism. Also,
the magistrate element, which is far flung and in many
ways not efficient in moving cases, may need reengineering and case management. These twin areas of
court administration bear heavily on the defense function.

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Lastly, although there is a diverse mix of individuals with
varying career histories, the defense function in the county
is basically conducted by lawyers who are committed to
assisting their indigent clients and in many ways feel
unappreciated by the larger county government
community. Their sentiments should be seen in light of
the larger system issues, which, in some ways, make the
defense function the system's stepchild, and in other ways,
provide a handy catchall for the faults of the other
agencies.
System reform requires a holistic perspective. And, there
is much work to be done now,
Sincerely,

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Alan Kalmanoff
Executive Director

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januarr 2009. Page 4

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
Executive Sunlmary

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6

1. Introduction..

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2. Background. .... .. .... ... ... ... ..... .... ... .. . .. ... .. .. .. .... ..... ... ...... ....... .. ....

8

3. Current Issues..............

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4. Findings.......

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a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
h.

Organizational Diagnosis
"."....................................
Overall Agency Issues....
Continuances
,..
Reassignments...
Client Contact, Case Consolidation and Conflicts
,...........
Quality of Representation
,
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Training
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Information Technology..........
i. Office Administration
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j. Budget. .,
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... .. .. .
k. Practice Standards. ........................... ............. ...... ........ . ....
5, Strategic Plan: Initial Steps..........................................................

a.
b.
c.
d.
e.

Strengthen Leadership
Facilities
Information Technology
Interdisciplinary Model.
Pretrial. '". ,

6. Conclusion

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INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

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31
33
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34
34
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7. The Action Plan.... ,...................................................................
8. Appendices

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15
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21
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25
27
28

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January 2009 • Page 5

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Executive Summary
This assessment of the Allegheny Office of the Public Defender demonstrates that the
agency's current program is dysfunctional.

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The OPD lacks administrative direction and especially lacks efficiency. This inefficiency
is partially caused by delay and to the OPD's role in system-wide court case
management problems. Poor administration furthers the problems caused by shortfalls
in space, equipment and technology, a long-standing culture of private practice and
lawyer autonomy, inadequate management supervision and incentives, and an absence
of adequate policies and procedures.
This assessment shows that conditions within the OPD hamper its ability to provide
client representation. A lack of leadership and efficiency also drives excessive client jail
time, costing millions, and wastes staffing resources. Immediate actions must be taken
to break the cycle of delay, end gaps in coverage, reduce inefficiency, lower jail
crowding, and avoid liability.

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Introduction
In late 2007, the Institute for Law and Policy Planning (ILPP) was asked to review the
operations the Allegheny County Office of the Public Defender (GPD) in response to
concerns expressed by judges and others about high rates of continuances and
operational inefficiencies in the County's criminal defense function. The County's
defense system was itself in litigation until the end of 2004, concerning the adequacy of
constitutionally required representation of indigent defendants in the county's criminal
courts, including claims of lax administration, gaps in representation, inadequate
staffing, hours and attendance of attorneys, coordination with other agencies, and some
claims of high caseloads and/ or inadequate staffing reflected in surges in the use of
conflict counsel.
The work plan for the assessment involved a series of interviews during April 2008 with
key members of the OPD, collection of available data (rather than development of new
data), and interviews with the County Bench and other officials. These efforts were
followed by a day-long workshop including the OPD's management teaU"l and
representatives of various staffing levels, which was aimed at "organizational
diagnosis". This was to be accomplished by the agency's own leadership, followed by a
brief report to the Chief Public Defender, who senres as Director of the GPD.
Because the chief concern expressed by the judges has been the very high rate of
continuances in criminal cases, some data from various and generally inconsistent
sources were gathered on the number, rate, and causes of continuances, as well as
attorney assignment and workload (in addition to caseload and number of appearances,
all of which are inconsistent measures). Other concerns included the lack of
management and supervisor accountability, a backlog of cases, and a lack of meaningful
performance objectives for assistant public defenders, coupled with little or no real use
of existing practice and performance standards. Additionally, there is a long list of less
important but noted office management issues including the unavailability of complete
files, problematic scheduling of la\'\'yers, phone system accountability issues, etc.
After the April interviews and a day-long workshop, the follow-up interviews were
conducted over the next six \'\'eeks \vith additional attorneys, judges, court officials, etc.,
paralleling the collection of additional readily accessible data on staffing, caseloads and
assignments, delays, staff turnover, budget, etc.
This review looks briefly at the evolution of the OPD and current operations, and
examines some of the criticism, focusing in part on the incidence, causes, and
consequences of case delay.

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

Januarr 2009 • Page 7

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Background
In an earlier phase of the County's history, the representation of accused indigents in
Allegheny County was provided by private attorneys who individually contracted with
the County while maintaining their private practices. This arrangement influenced the
OPO's development, as evidenced by part time deputy public defender attorneys who
still maintain a private practice. Even after attorneys began working out of a common
facility for their public defense work, they continued to maintain private practices.
Once the OPO was established more formally, full time attorneys were hired to
supplement the contract attorneys who had declined to convert to full-time
employment. Along the way, the attorneys were unionized and the agency was sued
and then administered under a consent decree for some years. As a backdrop to the
most recent history, a criminal justice policy group of all agencies, including the OPO
director, began meeting in 2002 to consider system-wide concerns.
In 1996, the ACLU's suit against Allegheny County in the U.S. District Court alleged
severe understaffing, excessive caseloads, faulty processes, incomplete records,
ineffective procedures, and inferior physical facilities. It was claimed that all these
factors contributed to systemic violations of the Sixth Amendment Constitutional right
to counsel and principles of indigent defense by competent representation.
The case was eventually mediated and resulted in a 1998 settlement and consent decree.
The resolution established a minimum ratio of two public defenders to every prosecutor
and included other procedural stipulations that significantly increased the size of the
agency's staff and improved the sophistication of its operations. (See Appendix 0 for a
history and summary of this litigation.)
Monitoring for compliance continued until the end of 2004, when challenges to the
OPO's handling of capital cases, staffing, and consistency, as well as preparedness, were
heard again by the court in a motion for contempt. While staffing levels and capital case
representation were deemed acceptable on review, various problems with inadequate
client conununication were highlighted and procedures were recommended to address
these chronic problems. Revised procedures addressing these issues were adopted by
the OPO.

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Current Issues
Concerns have been raised about the OPO by judges, outsiders, and those within the
court system, in complaints that usually seem anecdotal but which have recently raised
the interest of the County Solicitor. These concerns target the following general areas:
•

the significant number of cases which have been transferred to outside counsel
(often cases involving conflicting co-defendants) because of either alleged
excessive caseloads or administrative problems in managing the workload and
personnel within OPO;
• the apparently excessive number of continuances or postponements granted by
the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas, leading to aI/culture of delay" and a
virtual co-dependency throughout the court house culture on this seemingly
normative delay pattern, which is often blamed on the OPO;
• the alleged absence of accountability in the management structure and
supervision of the OPO office; and
• a lack of procedures and policies within the OPO to assure adequate case
preparation, complete and available files, timely performance and sufficient and
timely consultation with clients.
Because all of these concerns have arisen within the historical context of a major lawsuit
against the OPO and Allegheny County, and because the overall justice system has been
making good progress at re-engineering, and mostly because of a concern about
possible efforts to re-litigate some of the sante issues that were raised in earlier lawsuits,
the County Solicitor engaged ILPP to conduct this privileged and confidential review
and to provide legal advice to the County.

INSTITUTE FOR LAW AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Findings
a. Organizational Diagnosis
The "Seven-Box Model", originally developed by Dr. Melvin Weisbord of the Wharton
School and expanded upon by Joan Liberman of the National Academy of Corrections,
is an effective method of understanding the organizational health of an agency such as
the OPO (see Appendix A).
This method involves seven steps that analyze organizational processes and help spot
problematic areas in an organization, test the strengths of the organization, and prepare
for change within the organization. Once an organizational diagnosis is developed, an
assessment can provide the opportunity for an organization to be more proactive rather
than reactive to key issues.
The seven interrelated processes that this model covers include an analysis of the
organization's purpose, strategies, structure, rewards, helpful mechanisms,
relationships, and leadership. The outline below summarizes the input of the OPD
management team and representative staff from the organizational diagnosis workshop
held as part of this study.

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1. Purpose
a. The purpose of the OPD is to effectively represent indigent defendants,
but there is no clear indoctrination of attorneys or staff in the Office's
objectives and mission statement.
b. The Office's rules of professional ethics and documents that elaborate on
the mission statement are not used or applied regularly.
c. The practice standards that were put in place after the ACLU lawsuit are
not regularly used in OPD Practice.
d. The efficiency of employees' training in the OPD's work standards is
questionable.
e. Other than the two full time lawyers who do the training, the OPO has no
official training coordinator.
Based on the workshop and further study, ILPP finds no dear outline of the
OPD's purpose, nor any real leadership or direction with regard to defining that
purpose.
2. Strategies
a. Defenders do not meet their clients after they are booked into the jail.
b. The OPD has not established a plan for managing or transferring
caseloads when case numbers increase and exhaust the allocated funding.
INSTITUTE I'OR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

Janua!"y 2009 • Page 10

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

c. Crucial mechanisms for identifying conflicts and scheduling issues are
lacking.
d. There are no procedures for maximizing the usefulness of expensive
attorney staffing.
Based on the workshop and further study, ILPP finds that the strategies of the
OPD are flawed by unsystematic assignments of attorneys to courts and by the
lack of norms concerning baseline practice management or expectations.
3. Structure
a. Inefficient communication leads to obtaining varying directions from
different agency sources rather than from a single source.
b. There is no supervision for the support staff as a whole, and each group is
treated differently, which limits efficiency and teamwork.
c. There is no current and recognized OPD organizational chart.
d, Though there is an attorney who manages the Juvenile division, this role
is missing from the Adult flow of cases. There is no one officially
managing and coordinating the Adult caseload.
e. The rotating "pod lawyers" who work in the jail do not have meetings
among themselves to coordinate the work and manage case or client flow.
£. There are no organized public relations or communication strategies for
the OPD, other than law school visits and publications.
g. In regards to the process of client representation, from the initial interview
with the attorney through trial and disposition, there is an unacceptable
period of approximately four months, between the pretrial conference and
the preliminary hearing of a case, when jailed offenders do not see their
lawyer.
i. During this dead time, there is no proactive problem solving in the
OPD.
ii. During this dead time, there is no attorney assigned. Jail mail is a
problem that results from this gap in representation. Complaints to
the disciplinary board and the client's long wait without an
attorney are major problems labeled by some deputy public
defenders as the "OPD's hidden shame",
h. There is no audit or inspection of the OPD.
i. There is no one responsible for managing OPD cases and files.
j. Monitoring attorney hours is a problem because each division has
different sources of delays, lunch hours, norms for accounting, and even
work hours.
From the workshop and further study, ILPP concludes that the structure of the
OPD is not well adapted to efficiency because it is not maximizing or even
managing the use of scarce personnel resources. The lack of hierarchy, meetings,
INSTITUTE FOR LAW' AND POLlCY PLANNING (ILPP)

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team building, and managed and supervised teams further weakens the structure
of the OPD.
4. Rewards
a. There is no legitimate free time and there are no granted days off for
attorneys in the various divisions, particularly in the Juvenile and Pretrial
units.
b. There is no rewards system for the work that the defenders do.
c. Feedback and evaluations do not lead to any effective change in the OPD
operation.
From the workshop and further study, ILPP finds that the OPD is mISSIng a
rewards system in terms of salary, grades, and support systems. Furthermore, the
lack of management and supervision might actually provide disincentives to
timely completion of required work.

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5. HelpfUl mechanisms and technologies
a. In general, information files in the OPO are not easily located and thus
difficult to obtain. Furthermore, while there is verbal interaction between
the attorneys and inmates in a jail pod, there is no paperwork from Intake
about an offer to a client or an opportunity to see a lawyer. This
information is consequently "lost to the file" and does not reach the
attorney in a timely manner. Slippage in cases is also caused when
questions relative to a case fail to come through, and even if they do, the
required information is not on file.
b. At one point, as a result of the ACLU lawsuit, attorneys handed brochures
and forms to their clients, which facilitated some attorney-client
interaction. These items are currently absent.
c. The lack of file management procedures, adequate mechanized file
cabinets, and other similar organizational technologies make it difficult to
locate information and consequently easy for mistakes to be made and left
unnoticed on Intake documentation.
d. Jail mail from inmates is not connected to their files.
e. There is no database that alerts anyone to problems that arise in
coordinating and assigning cases to lawyers.
f, There is inadequate or no space available for attorneys, records, witnesses,
meetings, etc.
g. No accounts manager or records person exists to deal with the problems
of files, space, and related caseload management problems.
h. Some but not all Defenders have been given cell phones, ,·",hieh affects
morale and scheduling.

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND l'oLlCY PLANNING (ILPP)

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

i.

The office has no laptops and no wireless ability to build a file frOll1 any
location, which contributes to the lost files problem and greatly limits
efficiency.

From the workshop and further study, ILPP finds that the resources available for
OPD's functions are highly limited. The problems range from inadequate space
to deficient technologies and filing systems.
6. Relationships
a. There is a lack of bilateral communication between supervisors, staff
members, and lawyers, particularly around working out problem areas or
addressing complaints.
b. Evaluation techniques are ineffective in improving OPD morale.
c. There is no team-building in the OPD.
From the workshop and further study, ILPP finds that relationships are cordial
and supportive in the OPD Office, but the director and managers undermine
discipline and productivity through conflict avoidance and a lack of training.
7. Leadership
a. Although OPD has a Director, there is no person who attends to or keeps
the various noted organizational functions running or in balance.
Additionally, there is no Deputy Director.
b. Leadership does not directly deal with conflicts, and there are no
mechanisms other than the County's Human Resources department and
the Employee Assistance Program to help facilitate resolution of
staff/ relationship problems.
From the workshop and further study, ILPP finds that there is no one in the OPD
who provides the type of leadership needed to maintain the vigor and balance of
the organization's mission, strategies, structure, incentives, helpful mechanisms,
and relationships.
b. Overall Agency Issues
The Office of Public Defender lacks mechanisms to ensure accountability. The culture of
independent contractors that originated in the formation of the OPD over twenty years
ago continues to be a dominant theme in the office's culture, staffing patterns,
procedures, and in its current problems.
It is common for OPD attorneys to "pick up their files" once a week and manage their

ovm calendars with hardly any interaction with their colleagues or offers of real
administration to support their accountability to an organizational structure for their
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January 2009. Page 13

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time or management of their cases. In short, many of the deputy public defenders tend
to act as independent contractors, and their actions are not truly governed by
management or supervision. (It is also alleged but unproven that many of these
attorneys do not in fact keep regular hours, do not work as long as their conditions of
employment require, and are often home, away, or working in their private practice.)
Some of the problems addressed in the ACLU lawsuit included an underfunded and
understaffed office, antiquated policies and procedures, alleged overwhelming
caseloads, and a consensus that physical facilities are inadequate. Many of these
problems persist today, contributing to a dysfunctional office culture where normative
or even minimal performance expectations do not exist.
The physical facilities were and still are undersized and overcrowded. The norm is two
attorneys to a small room, which is certainly not suitable for client conferences or
genuinely intense advocacy work. The space is old, poorly maintained, and too small
for client or witness interviews, staff meetings, etc. Such quarters reinforce the tendency
of the attorneys to spend work time away from the courts and GPO offices, or in the
courtroom. The lack of space may, and most believe does, additionally reduce
interaction with clients and witnesses.
Although the size of the staff has almost doubled since the inception of the ACLU
lawsuit and criminal case filings have remained fairly constant over the last decade,
caseloads are once again perceived as "excessive" by the OPO and some commentators
within the larger system. This perception is chiefly results from the sheer number of
appearances for each case. Attorneys can reasonably claim that there are larger and
perhaps increasing calendar (and by some definitions, workload) demands on their
time.
However, it may be that the actual work required by the caseload is not greater than it
was in the past. ILPP believes that this is in fact the case. The problem is within the
system, the participants' work and practice habits, and the dysfunctional management
of the overall court system (which is improving) and OPO (which is getting worse).
When five assistants left the office last winter in fairly quick succession, the OPO
responded by sending over 100 cases to "conflict counsel," where they were in turn sent
on to outside contract counsel. The large numbers and high costs involved served to
increase the negative perceptions and criticisms of the agency's work. It also raised
questions that indirectly led to this study, and rightly so, as the objective basis for an
overload requiring such extreme action has not yet been identified.
Good caseload data was not readily available, but as will be discussed later, workloads
may in fact be high (and perhaps higher) because of the increased time necessary to
process each case. This is due to multiple continuances for each case and terribly
INSTITUTE I~OR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (II.PIl)

J~nllarr

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

inefficient case scheduling, case management, and case processing by a court system
that remains static compared to national best practice in court case management.
OPD administration, policies and procedures, and supporting systems remain
inadequate, including those affecting case preparation, continuances, consolidation of
cases, salaries, and promotions.
c. Continuances
Although both standards (external and internal) and objective and accurate system data
are lacking, there is little doubt that continuances in the Court of Common Pleas are
seen by all as excessive. Even a cursory review of the available data on courtroom visits
suggests that repeatedly postponed cases are the rule rather than the exception.
Quantifying and attributing continuances to the various participants is more difficult.
There is no single source of good, well-defined information about continuances.
Judges suggest that it is routine for seven or eight continuances to be sought (and
granted by the courts) before a case finally gets resolved. In fact, Rule 300.12-13 of the
Allegheny County Criminal Rules of Court, which is more often honored in the breach
than followed, requires the assigned judge to allow a change in the trial schedule only
upon a showing of "good cause". This problem of constant postponements of cases
alone is a major factor in driving up the number of appearances and the perception of
higher workloads for prosecutors, judges, and public defenders in the Court of
Common Pleas, despite a striking long-term stability in the number of criminal cases
filed. It should also be noted that the constant postponements drive up the perceived
workload of bailiffs, court reporters, police witnesses, and many, many others at an
overall expense beyond the imagination of most observers. While outside this study's
scope, it must be observed that this set of problems contains the solution to many of the .
County's major budget problems.

I

A high continuance rate greatly debilitates the court and carries enormous hidden costs.
Every person connected to the courtroom must expend some increment of time in
preparing, handling, or, at the very least, waiting for and "touching" material for a case;
this time and some effort is lost when the case is continued. This terrible waste occurs
each time there is a delay in a case's movement towards disposition.
What is missing on a system-wide level is the norm that every time a case comes
before the bar, something should happen in order to move the case forward toward
disposition.
In a large majority of cases, in any system, a disposition can be readily achieved if
adequate preparation and case management are in place. After all, more than 95% of all
cases achieve disposition through a plea bargain. If the testifying officer is ready, other
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January 2009 • Page 15

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

witnesses have been subpoenaed, the prosecutor is ready, the defense has talked to the
client and has received discovery and appropriate sentencing program options, and all
relevant options for case disposition have been explored, then disposition is only a
matter of coming before the bar.
There is a widespread perception, not entirely supported by the data and other facts,
that the high continuance rate is primarily driven by the defense. Judges interviewed
almost uniformly held that public defenders had not interviewed their clients before
appearing in court, that continuances were almost never requested via formal legal
motions as required by court rules, that unnecessary continuances were sought when
routine matters could have been handled by a colleague or by someone regularly
assigned to a particular calendar (as all cases are handled vertically), and that it was
conunon for unprepared defense counsel to nevertheless go forward.
However, a review of several months' worth of continuances suggests that the delay is
not entirely driven by the defense. Based on OPD's Trial Postponement data for the
months spanning March to May 2008 (set out in full in Appendix B of this report),
Figure 1 (a) shows that:
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About 25% of continuances were sought by the prosecution: a witness was
missing, forensic tests had not been completed, or a necessary police officer or
victim did not or could not appear. It is unclear from the data whether witnesses
were properly subpoenaed and failed to appear, or isubpoenas were not sent at
all. Thus these failures to appear may indicate that something could be amiss in
the agency issuing subpoenas (which ILPP confirmed is sometimes the case).
• Roughly another 25% were continued for programmatic reasons: the defendant
was being considered for drug court or another specialized program. In 16% of
the cases, the defense was not prepared: a witness had not been subpoenaed,
discovery had just been received, a conflict in representation had been
discovered, or the assistant public defender was not available.
• An additional 14% were defendant related: this is usually because the defendant
was in some other county's jail facility, was late, or requested a postponement for
other reasons.
• An additional 10% were due to the need to consolidate cases 01' \'\'ork out a
conflict in co-defendant representation, something that normally can be worked
out ahead of time by an alertly administered public defender's office. The
remaining 10% or so were continued by the judge, usually because the defendant
had not been transported to court or due to a judge's schedule or absence from
court.
Figure 1(b) shO\-\'s that the largest single category of continuances is system-related. The
defendant was being considered for a treatment progTam, was in some other facility
Gail or court), or had not been transported to the courtroom \'vhere the case was due to
INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

January 2009 • Page' 16

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

be heard. The second largest group, comprising about a third of all continuances, is
related to inadequate preparation by the defense: cases had not been consolidated or
conflicts had not been resolved, witnesses were not subpoenaed by the subpoena office,
or the assigned public defender was not available.
To put this in perspective, this figure is only somewhat higher than that of prosecutionrelated delays, which represent about a quarter of the total. The difference is that the
defense-related delays are primarily related to inadequate processes.
The OPD's Trial Postponement data were corroborated by an unscientific review of one
day's continuances of cases before several judges by ILPP, suggesting that the data was
reasonably accurate.
Figure 2 shows the reasons for continuances at the trial level in the Criminal Division in
2007 ranked according to frequency. According to the report created from the Conunon
Pleas Case Management System (CPCMS) (also presented in Appendix B of this report),
the leading three reasons were that the Defendant (48.22%), Defense Attorney (36.18%),
or Prosecution (4.75%) were "not ready".
A continuance report created from CPCMS conSistently shows 8-12% prosecutiondriven continuances, 10% court-driven continuances, and 35-50% defense-driven
continuances. However, these attributions of delay to the defense include cases in
which the defendant is not able to proceed through no fault of his own, such as when he
is locked up in another facility or when a program has not yet processed him.
Another set of data set out in AppendiX B and also created from CPCMS breaks down
the continuances in April 2008 for each judge (Figure 3). Out of 1,040 counts of
continuances, approximately 50% were granted by judges "0113", "0102", "0103", and
"0114." For judge 0113 and judge 0102, the continuances were mostly defense-driven
(94.25% and 92.75% respectively); Le., the defendant needed more time. For judge 0103,
68.60% of the continuances were attributed to the defense counsel not being ready, and
22.31 % to the defendant not being ready. For judge 0114, 98.31 % of the continuances
\",ere driven by the defense counsel not being ready.
These last two sets of data show that 32% of postponements are court-related, 5%
attributed to the prosecutor and the remainder to defense. They also indicate
inconsistencies among judges, ,·vhich argue strongly for an improved court case
management system, best implemented after some sort of overall system assessment.
In short, after looking at all the available data, it can be concluded that the quality of the
data is not good, definitions are inconsistent, and use of the CPCMS data in particular is
weighted against the defendant by including systen1 delays in the defendant's column.
We believe that a careful attribution of the data would demonstrate that delays are
INSTITUTE IIOR LAW AND }>OLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

January 2009 • Page 17

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endemic and approximately spread equally among court, system delays, the
prosecution and the defense. The important point is that the Humber of delays is
excessive, regardless of the reason.
While a better system to provide more comprehensive and consistent data is necessary
to consistently and objectively demonstrate the primary reasons for continuances, these
various sets of data all point to a conclusion that the Court of Common Pleas is heavily
burdened by excessive grants of continuances, and that the defense is perceived to be,
and may well be, the major generator of that delay.
The present system has inadequate procedures for early identification of cases for
consolidation or conflict resolution, for handling routine matters on a calendar basis
by a single assistant, for providing coverage of cases when an Assistant Public
Defender is not available or could not be available, and for assuring that discovery
and witness subpoenas are complete.
In assessing this problem, it is important to note two important dynamics:
1) only a judge can grant a continuance, and
2) defense attorneys sometimes corne to believe that all continuances work to
the advantage of their clients because the witnesses may not show up,
memories may fade, and the prosecution or court may, over time, make an
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A large number of defendants appear to be receiving sentences for "credit for time
served," which suggests that they have served more time than they would have
served had they simply been sentenced at an earlier point in time.
Delay does not serve the interest of a defendant who is in custody and simply needs to
get sentenced. This situation applies to the overwhelming number of defendants, 98 %
of whom plead guilty.
Excessive delay means that the defendants end up serving more time court calendars
are clogged, public defender and prosecutor workloads are higher than necessary
and/or become inflatedl and the system overaII lacks accountability in terms of the
relationship between resources and workload.
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A culture of co-dependency has evolved behveen the courts and OPD in which rules
requiring good cause for continuances are not enforced, and judicial apprehension of
appeals leads to disingenuous laxity in granting continuances.

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INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND Poue\, PLANNING (ILPP)

I

J>tuua!"y 2009 • Page 18

ALLEGHENY COUNlY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Public defenders put off and do not examine the causes for continuance while courts
feel compelled to grant continuances to "make the system work" (although homicide
and sexual assault cases appear to be the exceptions.)
Courts make only individual and sporadic efforts to manage their calendars. As a
consequence, in spite of much lip service given to the belief that individual judges
must and do control their case calendars, most judges have in fact given up
functional authority over continuances sought by the defense. With that, the judges
have no control over their docket, despite the long-standing myth to the contrary,
namely that they control the docket.
What is worse is that the defense tends to focus primarily on the priorities of the
defense attorneys to the point where they have become more concerned in a great many
instances with their own personal calendars than with the best interests of the
defendant.
Allegheny County has, by tradition, no real court case management system (eMS) in
place, whether manual or automated. This lack in the system overshadows all other
problems of delay and feeds various dysfunctional patterns of case flow. The obsolete
court docket system currently in place, along with the lack of rules and norms to move
cases, creates congestion and delay, costing many millions in lost chances throughout
the flow of most cases.
The lack of a court case management system means that courts have no standards, no
goals for managing cases, no performance benchmarks, and only minimal information
or feedback to individual judges about their performance in comparison with other
judges handling similar cases.
The result is a system imbued with a culture of delay and lack of accountability that
goes far beyond the problems of the OPO.
d. Reassignments
The following comparison chart was constructed from data supplied by the OPD, which
shows the number of assignments and reassignments for all Public Defenders employed
by the Office. Reassignments are cases that are added into a PD's docket of cases later
than usual, typically after the pre-arraignment stage. There can be a variety of reasons,
from the resignation of the PD to the transfer of a defendant from private to PO
representation.

INSTITUTE paR LAw AND POLlCY PLANNING (ILPP)

January 2009 • Page 19

ALLEGHENY COUNlY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

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There are, however, some gaps in the data. Some specialized assignments, such as the
drug, Act 33, and DUI cases, are not included in the numbers. While these represent a
relatively small proportion of all actual cases, the specialized cases are approximately
5% higher than represented by the data.
The numbers of assigned cases are shown in the chart. The numbers of both general and
specialized cases have increased from 2005. Also shown is the difference betvveen
specialty and general cases assignment numbers. This difference is due to the nature of
the cases. The specialty cases are typicalIy more involved, and take considerably more
time than general cases. The numbers increase by at least 50% when reassignment cases
are added. Moreover, the specialized cases increase by an average of 60% when the
reassignments are added.
It is difficult to tell what these increases mean. It is not fair to automaticalIy assume
significant inefficiencies. The numbers of reassignments per PD have been relatively
static; however, the overall numbers have increased from 464 (2005), to 509 in 2006, to
1325 in 2007. Because there is no reassignment data available yet for 2008, it is difficult
to ascertain if the 2007 numbers are telling of a problem or just represent a fluke year
"lith significant turnover in staff and cases.

From 2005 through 2007, the total number of cases handled by the PD office has
fluctuated somewhat. In 2005, the PD had 9,103 new cases assigned. That number
jumped to 10,050 in 2006. In 2007 the number of cases receded to 9,340. Over that
period, however, there has been a consistent increase in the number of cases assigned
per month to each public defender. The numbers for non-specialty PDs ,,,,'ere 24.9 in
2005, 28.5 in 2006, and 29.6 in 2008.
INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

January 2009 •

Pagl~

20

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OFTHE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Basic analysis is limited due to the lack of sufficient data points, and it leaves out the
huge impact of postponements and appearances which differ from the traditional kind
of workload of trial preparation. The specialized cases emphasized in the analysis are in
an area of practice that is not measured, monitored, managed or much understood and
requires strong management analysis and real oversight and control. The increases may
not represent higher workload. In fact, a lighter workload may be masked by more
paper, appearances that are pro forma reviews, check~ins, etc. The data is too rough and
limited in scope, without standards or bases for comparison to generate a conclusion.
However, it is included herein as a basis for urging further study and management
analysis to understand their real workload impact.
e. Client Contact, Case Consolidation, and Conflicts
Judges in Allegheny County, including those interviewed directly and those whose
informal opinions were eventually shared indirectly with the study team, have a
general "consensus" or shared view that public defenders are not meeting with their
clients prior to some key appearances in court. This observation is often based on what
clients say in the courtroom (and the very small sample of clients interviewed for this
study) as'well as the coded reasons for typical requests for a continuance.
This perception is an oversimplification. In fact, the OPD has a system for interviews by
paralegals and investigators that happen very soon after arrest. Most files indicate
significant work done on the case before a public defender reviews it and appears in
court. A small number of random interviews conducted for this study with in-custody
defendants suggests that there is not widespread dissatisfaction with public defender
representation, beyond what is typically found among most defendants. Most inmate
interviews suggested that the public defenders were well~prepared and generally
helpful, although one intervie\vee reported that the public defender did not have
paperwork and was unaware of the charges. Some stated that the public defender at the
preliminary hearing was different than the individual \vith whom they had initial
contact, but these persons reported no discontent with the change once they found the
"new" public defender capable of proceeding.
The system, and particularly the way that indigent persons are provided representation,
however, is inadequate and poorly managed. In many routine cases, there is little or no
contact ,vith a person the defendant can regard as lImy lawyer" until just before or at
the first courtroom appearance.
There is nearly a total lack of representation for about four months between the first
stages and the trial. During this time inmates are languishing with literally no
attorney of record, no one to update their files, and no real advocacy.
INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLlCY PLANNING (ILPP)

January 2009. Page 21

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

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This waste of opportunities to move cases and the loss in justice and monies are hard to
justify. They are institutionalized and integrated into the courthouse culture, and the
cost is enormous. Due to the culture of delay, defense attorneys come to accept that a
case will be continued multiple times before "real" decisions are made. Thus the
defense attorneys feel, and justify to themselves, that there is no urgent reason to be
fully prepared early in a case.
The higWy individualistic assignment and handling of cases contributes to OPD's
systemic inadequacy at identifying and resolving situations where a defendant has
multiple cases pending that should be consolidated for plea and sentencing purposes.
In over 10% of the cases, actual courtroom appearances must be made, sometimes
multiple times, to identify the various public defenders assigned and to get
consolidated representation worked out. This is all work that should be taken care of by
the OPD management, in advance, and not at the expense of appearances and court
time.
In fairness to the OPD, however, it lacks the kind of manual or automated court case
management system (CMS) that most modern jurisdictions now have, which results in
greatly accelerated resolution of these issues.
A similar situation exists with regard to conflict of representation between codefendants with a possible conflict of interest. The OPD lacks adequate policy and
training on what constitutes a conflict, as well as an appropriate process for early
identification and reassignment to conflict counsel. There is disagreement within the
GPD about what constitutes a conflict in a variety of specific situations. Too many cases
have to go to court first just to be continued to deal with the conflict issue-something
that should be systematically identified much earlier.

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Nearly all cases go before the criminal court, including cases that are appropriate for the
Magistrate Court level. The Early or Accelerated Disposition court is not yet as
effectively situated within the process as it could be, and developing eligibility
requirements may be too restrictive. This set of constraints results in an unnecessary
number of cases involving lesser offenses being sent to trial.

Establishing a pretrial calendar in a specific court each day, with a judge to oversee the
process, would go a long way to easing this problem. Proper judicial oversight will
mean that trial dates will not be set until the case is truly ready to go to tria" with all
discovery produced, wih1esses interviewed} and attorney-client meetings completed.
The OPD and the DA should assign calendar attorneys to manage case flow.
f. Quality of Representation
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january 2009 • Page 22

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

In light of all these systemic problems, it was expected that most would claim or
perceive that there was a significant breakdown in the quality of the representation of
individual defendants in the Court of Common Pleas.
Surprisingly, or perhaps because all are involved in the system of co-dependent delay,
there was no such basic judgment of a breakdown in representation. The strongest
criticisms tend to be that the OPD lawyers do not sufficiently use investigators, do not
interview their clients, do not file motions in advance, etc. Nonetheless, the small
sample of clients interviewed did not seem to be inordinately displeased with their
attorneys and the judges seem generally pleased with the quality of the individual
public defenders assigned to their courtrooms. Still, in the opinion of the ILPP Study
Team, this sanguine perspective is a result of a lack of information on court
performance and the cultural and contextual involvement of the entire court house
gang." In other words, dysfunctional family life is rarely observed by individual family
members, who are so entrenched in the process that they cannot really see it for what it
is.
II

While it is difficult to come to objective judgments or conclusions supported by data,
probably as a result of the culture of co-dependency described above and the lack of
objective consistent data, motion practice has clearly deteriorated to the point where
written motions are almost never made in advance for continuances, discovery, or
evidentiary issues.
g. Training
There is a Widespread perception among judges that there is little or no training of
assistant public defenders. Again, this general perception is oversimplified; in fact, a
contingent goes to training at the Pennsylvania Association of Public Defenders each
year.
Despite this effort, almost all agree that the amount of training is inadequate, and that
the lack of training reinforces the extreme individualism practiced in the office. Training
is needed in such basics as ethics, conflicts of interest, motion and trial practice, and
certainly in performance standards.
A separate issue is training of supervisors and managers. No such training currently
exists and observations unambiguously demonstrate that there is a great need. A public
defender is appointed from the ranks. He has received no training and confronts the
problem faced by all elevated from among peers, namely, establishing himself as the
authority among those once his equals. His management skills are clearly lacking,
which is evident from almost every aspect of the OPD operation reviewed for this
study, including a lack of actual knowledge of vI'hat is going on in the office and
INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

January 2009 • Page 23

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

courtrooms, and a lack of effort to identify and remedy the most serious and obvious
OPD and system problems.
His managers and supervisors likewise seem to have had no specific management or
supervisory training. Their work in supervising and managing the office's workload
clearly demonstrates their inadequacies as managers and supervisors. These
deficiencies further reinforce the individualistic, unaccountable culture of the OPO
office.
h. Information Technology
The OPO has received short shrift from the County in the development of information
management systems, technologies, and programs. For years after the introduction of
computers, the OPO received only leftover desktop computers discarded by other
county offices, resulting in a hodgepodge of machines with no common IT architecture.
That they have sufficed and lasted as long as they have is a testament to the "shade
tree" tedmical skills of the office's IT support staff. Recently, 25 new desktop machines
were delivered, which is an improvement over the prior situation but hardly
meaningful in the face of the great need for management data. Additionally, the general
availability of good programs and inexpensive hardware is also missing from the OPD
budget.
The lack of adequate hardware and software to manage the work is in part a direct
result of the fact that there has been no focused effort to identify the appropriate IT
structure for the OPD. Acconunodations have not been made that address the need for
public defenders to work from the courtroom, the jail, the office, witness premises, and
their private~practice office andlor home.
In light of this context, an improved IT architecture would involve small laptop
computers with wireless connections in most of those locations, backed by data
servers in the office and a suitably secure IP tunnel to access them.

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Providing all public defenders ''''ith cell phones would also greatly help modernize the
currently primitive communications process, again at a very favorable cost-benefit ratio
compared to adding staff. There is a distinct need to elevate the "stepsister" status of
OPO IT functions and to recognize that case management and sched uling data alone
can solve many more problems well, and inexpensively compared to simply adding
staff and to the cost of talent that is currently wasted by inefficient administration,
management, and supervision unsupported by technology.

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A good time for this to occur would be in connection with the acquisition of a public
defender's case OJ' records management system (CMS/RMS), which is nm.... being
effectuated in Allegheny County. A good system would improve the tools available to
INSTITUTE FOR

LAw AND POLICY Pl.ANNING (ILP]»

Janua rr 2009 • P>tge 24

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

finally bring some management to the office, and therefore careful thought and
planning should be given to which system is appropriate. The choice needs to be
compatible with the vaunted Pennsylvania JNET justice information systems and work
with the yet-to-be-adopted court CMS. It should recognize that the needs of Pittsburgh
and Philadelphia are qualitatively different from the other Pennsylvania counties with
much smaller urban jurisdictions. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have more in common
with large cities in other states than with their more rural Pennsylvania cousins.
One area of improvement has been the delivery of discovery materials from the
prosecution on CDs. Because this "innovation" has been recently implemented, there is
a sense of relief at its arrival. But the CDs (which are vulnerable to loss, can only be in
one place at a time, and still need to be hand carried) should be replaced with electronic
transfer of the discovery files via secure FTP or email. Then a system should be
developed for integration of discovery documents into an appropriate CMS for the OPO
office.
The OPO needs a decent brief bank that would promote collaboration among assistants
rather than the individualistic culture that now dominates. This development would
greatly help improve the OPD's motion practice.
Finally, the OPO needs to be recOImected to the Allegheny County justice information
system. Because of expressed concerns about security and misuse of law enforcement
information by part-time attorneys and those who also have private practices, the office
has been deprived of non-privileged information readily available to the prosecution
and courts. That deprivation should be inunediately corrected, as should the perception
that system misuse has resulted from external forces. It results from maintaining private
practices, which, while complicated and not a major focus of this study, also should
end.
i. Office Administration
Office salaries are too low, but given the availability of a steady supply of young
attorneys, recruibnent has apparently not suffered. However, the OPD personnel
structure has insufficient gradation to retain attorneys as they become more senior,
leading to a high turnover rate among more experienced attorneys - another truly
major but largely hidden expense because these experienced la"'..yers are replaced by
less expensive juniors.
The 2008 Attorney Records (see Appendix B Figure 6) has a Case Assignment Tracking
Log for the Trial Unit attorneys in the OPD. Six out of 43 attorneys have already
resigned and the data only goes up to May 2008, while four more attorneys have been
hired. Based on the 2007 Attorney Records (see Appendix B Figure 7), the six were
considered experienced attorneys as they had 2.5% to 3.5% of the 9,411 cases split
INSTITUTE I'OR LAw AND POLlCY PLANNING (ILPP)

January 2009 • Page 25

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ALLEGHENY COUNlY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

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amongst all the attorneys. Other attorneys had caseloads ranging from 0.03% to 4.2%, so
they were in the upper half of the spectrum.

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There will always be the tendency in government offices to have young attorneys come
in, get trial experience, and move on to more lucrative private practices. But the OPD
needs to have multiple levels of assistant public defenders (Assistant PD levels 1, 2, 3
and 4, for example) with increasing salaries and defined benefits at each level, and a
way of examining for promotion from one level to the next. This approach, which is the
norm as well as best practice elsewhere, will reduce turnover and improve the value
obtained from personnel salaries currently expended.
Some serious thought should be given to how the OPD's physical facilities could be
improved or relocated, particularly with regard to offering space for client and witness
interviews. The space issue needs a holistic plan for immediate improvement as well as
a long-term solution to productive housing for the agency's work. Again, the space
solution is inexpensive compared to hiring staff to compensate for the inefficiencies.
Leadership of the office needs to be improved. The OPD Director has not been trained
in how to manage a large public defense office, and is not a natural manager. More
importantly, he appears virtually disinterested in administration and management, and
as a result, holds infrequent meetings, does not assign or oversee supervisors to help
manage, and fails almost completely to even try to identify and to address the major
system problems that plague his office. These terribly serious problems are in contrast
to his very personable ways and his wide range of contacts, which in fact do help the
office in many ways.

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The First Assistant Public Defender does not have the level of respect needed with the
bench and others to take up any of the slack that results from \"leak leadership at the
top. Significantly, this is due to a role that requires producing what judges request,
promised to the judges by the OPD Director, but not ahvays possible or available for to
produce.

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY I>LANNING (ILPP)

J~nu~ry 2009.

Page 26

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Many of the misperceptions or exaggerated perceptions that the OPO suffers from in
the court community are due to a lack of effective communication by the top two
managers in the OPD, the Director and the First Assistant.
While conununication alone will not solve the incumbents' lack of managerial skill or
inability to lead effectively, it would represent a starting point in focusing on the many
related problems, and the beginning of solutions. Without aware and committed
managers and leaders at the top, the OPD problems are too long-standing and too
deeply embedded in the court culture for any infusion of new resources to make a
significant difference.
Deficiencies in administration and management are greatly responsible for the lack
of attention to the most serious and obvious problems.
j. Budget

OPD budgeting should be focused on resolving the serious system and representation
problems identified in this report. Without resolving those problems, no amount of
funds for new attorneys will make much difference. These reforms are not necessarily
dependent on increased staff, but do require information technology training and
greatly enhanced administration and management.
Figure 4 (see Appendix B) shows the OPD's case management and capital budget
requests. The top section summarizes the budget request submitted by the OPD office
and the budget actually adopted. The difference between salaries requested and salaries
adopted was $249,725.
The bottom section provides the detail of the salary line difference of the $249,725 by
comparing base salaries, union increases, non-union increases, and new positions
requested. The difference in base salaries is roughly due to two individuals on family or
military leave. The remaining difference is due to positions requested versus positions
approved. There were no requests for new attorney or management positions. Most of
the new position requests were clerical in nature, contradicting Figure 5, the budget
narrative (see Appendix B) that was prepared by OPD, ,·vhich includes a proposed
increase of 6-8 additional la\vyers, and an increase in the number of managers to
improve the quality of lawyers and support staff.
The current director of OPD was unable to assemble a budget request or strategy that
matched the many system and management problems the organization faced. Figure 5,
presented on request to the study team, ,·vas vague, unsupported by any data other than
a dubious reference to non-existent "hard data," and without any focus on the major
well known problems of the OPD's work environment. It also stated that there was no
formal process to make budget requests; this statement is wrong. There is in fact a
INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

January 2009 • Page 27

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formal process, as reported by the County Manager and observed by ILPP. (The County
Manager detailed the process from the initial submission of departmental requests to
the final step of sending it to the County Council for approval.)
For some parties to be able to describe in detail the budget request process and others to
be unaware of it shows a lack of communication. Measures should be taken so that all
individuals above the line level in the GPD are aware of the budget request process.

k. Practice Standards
The OPD's practice standards provide guidelines to ensure effective legal services.
While their concept is ideal, the standards are neither updated nor consulted beyond
initial training, which renders them useless since they should be employed by managers
and supervisors along with file checks and other means, to ensure that jobs are being
done correctly. In normal professional practice, these standards are not to be read once
by new attorneys during orientation and then put aside thereafter, as in fact they are in
OPD's approach. The GPD Director and other interviews show that the practice
standards are not employed beyond initial orientation, nor are they enforced by
supervisors and managers over time, thereby demonstrating a lack of the most basic
management oversight.

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The employment of the practice standards written as part of the ACLU settlement
agreement referred to earlier and summarized in Appendix D was a measure taken by
the GPD to minimize concerns which would diminish the quality of legal
representation received by clients (i.e. lack of communication, preparation, conflict of
interest, and case overload per attorney), and would greatly reduce the number of
continuances if actually adhered to. The practice standards outline the requirements
and responsibilities for criminal defense practice so an GPD attorney can use them as a
resource to effectively and appropriately handle each case. They would be greatly
beneficial if attorneys were held to use them beyond their initial training.
The practice standards begin with guidelines for general practice. Each of the following
chapters outlines the stages of various types of representation: representation of the
adult client, adults in death penalty cases, juvenile clients, probation and parole
matters, and in civil commitment proceedings. Each type of representation has
guidelines that walk the reader through the stages of the process: initial procedures,
investigation and discovery, pretrial motions, negotiation and plea agreements, tdal,
sentencing (or disposition) and post sentence procedures. Before going into pretrial
proceedings for representation of adults in death penalty cases, the practice standards
take into account the roles of the D.A. in death penalty cases; the number of attorneys
per case and their separate duties; the education and experience of the D.A.; and issues
in the selection, monitoring and removal of a D.A. from cases. Essentially, more
information is given here them in any other type of representation.
INSTITUTE Fon LAW AND POLICY Pl.ANNING (ILPP)

}al1uar}' 2009. Page 28

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

These guidelines do not tell the attorneys specifically what to do. They are more of an
outline of what they should do-their duties and obligations-such as acting
professionally, maintaining good communications, being prepared, and so on. They
represent common sense written in legal jargon. They concisely summarize what the
attorney should do if such and such event should occur, and briefly review what rules
and practices the attorney should be familiar with to be ready to tackle various issues.
There is mention of a trial notebook on the side of the practice standards received. It
appears to be a good practice, but it also appears to be the only physical action taken in
terms of using the guideline as a primary resource. The OPO practice standards should
be updated continually with new information, and there should be a monitor or
monitoring procedure in place to make sure attorneys are adhering and referring to
these guidelines beyond initial training. In addition to the benefit of complying with the
previous lawsuit, these standards should be regarded by attorneys as a usable resource
to assure quality and effective legal services.
The Pro Bono Panel appointed to review the OPO's compliance with the previous
ACLU lawsuit (see Appendix D) put forth three key recommendations: (1) to create an
intake questionnaire, (2) to adopt a letter to clients regarding the purpose of the
preliminary hearing, and (3) to have all PDs to sign these documents to ensure
accountability. However, according to OPD Director, the use of signed letters and the
practice of signing all documents have largely been ignored. As part of the previous
lawsuit, the Panel's recommendations should not only be seen as useful, but required.
Necessary recordkeeping designed to track public defender contacts with in-custody
clients has also been largely ignored. The jail itself shares some culpability here in the
system-wide breakdown, as employees at the County Jail have not required public
defenders to adhere to this standard procedure. Interviews with correctional officers,
along with further inquiries and observations of attorney visits by ILPP, revealed that
the procedure for attorneys visiting clients is for the attorneys to sign in the visiting log
book \",ith their name, employer, inmate's name, and the purpose of the visit. The
attorney should then give his or her bar card to the correctional officer and state whom
they are Visiting; in turn, they would receive a pass to go into the jail.
However, in practice, this procedure is loosely follov,red since the correctional officers
do not verHy whether the attorney has signed the book located on a counter next to the
window. Some attorneys were observed to have signed only their names, while others
simply did not sign at all. As long as they had their bar card, they were admitted inside.
No differentiation is made in this process, as is required, betvveen public defenders and
private attorneys. This makes data on inmate interviews much more difficult to acquire
since there is no list indicating \·"hich inmates have public defender representation,
resulting in very limited and underrepresented sample of clients intervie\ved for this
INSTITUTE FOR LA\V AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

January 2009 • Page 29

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Strategic Plan: Initial Steps
Any strategic plan for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Office of the
Public Defender requires changes within the office itself and cooperation with the
greater criminal justice system at large. The culture of delay has been identified as the
single most curable problem in the criminal justice system as a whole. This culture is
system-wide, but there are changes that can be made within the office and in
coordination with the courts which can alleviate many of these problems.
The
following is a summary of recommendations.
a. Strengthen Leadership

Top Management
A leader needs to regularly remind those whom he leads of their ethical standards and
role, and to establish a structure that encourages performance in these areas. The Chief
Public Defender was appointed four years ago and has not received any management
training. Apparently, there was an assumption that since he had been in the office for
many years, he would know everything necessary to be the Director. However
supervising peers and friends is challenging under the best of circumstances. In the
stressful environment of OPD, it is critical that he develop true management skills,
including setting standards and goals, being visible among the attorneys, setting high
expectations, and demonstrating a leadership state of mind. In interviews and followup questions, it became apparent that the Director was not aware of or interested in
management or leadership.
In the alternative, other persOlmel changes should be investigated, including
recruitment of a strong manager, perhaps a non-attorney, who preferably would have
experience in a large law office or even a public defender's office in another large city.

Personnel Practices
The practice of attorneys working part-time for OPD and maintaining private practices
should be discontinued as soon as legally possible. This practice fosters a mentality that
is counterproductive to the goals of the OPO. Attorneys ,,,,ho make more money
representing private clients will undoubtedly prioritize the needs of those private
clients above the needs of oro clients. The culture that currently exists, wherein
attorneys put their own schedules above the needs of OPO clients can only end by
eliminating OrD attorneys' private
practices.
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INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

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OPO supervisors also need training in how to supervise their teams and how to
respond to the office's serious management needs.
The majority of all employees in the OPO are union employees and are subject to the
terms of a collective bargaining agreement. Nonetheless, OPO's personnel structure
should be reconfigured to provide for multiple grades of Public Defenders (PD 1-2-3-4)
with corresponding step increases based on performance criteriaThe ultimate structure
should resemble the District Attorney's Office, which is divided into specialized units
that provide attorneys with the opportunity to increase their income, improve their
overall legal skills, and receive good supervision (see Appendix E, item 8). To
accomplish this goal the County will likely have to renegotiate the collective bargaining
agreement.
Turnover is costly to the defendants and the County. The consensus is that junior
attorneys are lost because they are unable to provide for themselves (and repay their
law school debts) on the current County PD salary, in spite of a 3% increase, annually
(also subject to collective bargaining). Low morale and 1m." salaries, reinforced by an
external and internal perception of the OPD as a training ground for private practice,
encourage turnover in two to three years. Attorneys are not leaving the practice of law,
but rather are leaving the OPD. One manager commented, "We expect lawyers to leave
in three to four years./I
It should also be noted that among the very experienced attorneys, there was definite
dissatisfaction with salary both at their end of the scale and at the other end of the
spectrum. The problem of paying student loans will likely result in some resignations
among younger attorneys. "A $15,000 annual increase would make all the difference in
the world," was a typical conunent from several of the disheartened veterans.

As part of this restructure, level 4 attorneys should be the most experienced and most
highly paid trial attorneys in the office. Part of their duties should be supervisory.
Many of the problems of reassignments, consolidation of clients' cases, and late conflict
declarations which cause many of the delays in processing cases through the courts
could be remedied by having level 4 attorneys who help with these supervisory
assignment and case processing duties. Also, the most experienced trial attorneys in the
office are also usually the most respected role models for younger inexperienced
attorneys. Offering them the highest paid positions and supervisory and mentoring
duties is good for morale for both supervisors and young attorneys who can look up to
them and go to them for advice when needed. These attorneys will need training in
supervision and administrative functions. They will also need to be involved in the
culture of change in philosophy from the excessive continuance practices which have
existed in the Allegheny County Courts for years, Training these supervising attorneys
in the ne,'\' culture ,,,,,iII allow them to lead by example.
INSTITUTE I'OR LAW AND POLICY PLANNING

(ILPI)

January 2009 • Page 32

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

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Training
Comprehensive training for all staff is needed, in addition to attorneys (see Appendix E
item 9). One major need for training is in the area of Legal Ethics. The casual practice
and the attitude of "going along to get along" result in inattention to ethical rules,
specifically in regards to conflicts of interest and violation of ethical canons.

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It is unclear whether the OPD has a current written policy defining conflict of interest or
a policy on when and how new hires are to be trained. If no such conflict policy exists,
an experienced attorney should develop one, in writing, which includes all current legal
authority, for distribution to all staff attorneys. It also appears that the Office has no
regular refresher classes on ethics. Both are badly needed.
The position of "Training Coordinator" should be created so that one experienced
attorney could coordinate and develop on-going training programs for all attorneys.
b. Facilities
Additional office space adjacent to the OPD offices or on other floors in the COB
building needs to be occupied, so that the attorneys can have decent offices that allow
private interview spaces for client and witness interviews near the main lobby. (See
Appendix E item 4.)
The filing system needs to be cleaned up and organized with some new centralizing
and indeXing equipment, so that it is cohesive and accessible. Planning should begin for
the steps needed to move to a digital file system that would only create hardcopies of
those files immediately needed by an individual attorney. As stated on page 13, a
position for an accounts manager/records person needs to be established for these
important functions.
c. Information Technology
Necessary linkages need to be provided in order to use the K drive as a research
resource for new cases, opinions, trial strategy analyses, and discussion and sharing of
motions. Brief bank sofhvare should be purchased to facilitate storage and retrieval of
commonly used briefs, and templates should be developed for the most couunonly
used briefs and motions. The potential use of small laptops versus desktop machines
should be evaluated. The electronic delivery of discovery materials, instead of burning
them to CDs, must be accelerated. A CMS that will be both compatible with
Pennsylvania JNET and Allegheny County requirements, but which will also serve the
needs of a large urban public defense office, needs to be evaluated and acquired.
Finally, the office should be immediately given appropriate and carefully conb'olled
access to the Allegheny criminal justice information system (CPCMS).
INSTITUTE I'OR LA\\' AND I>OLlCYPl.ANNING (ILPP)

Jamwry 2009 • Page 33

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d. Interdisciplinary Model
Adopt an interdisciplinary model of representation including hiring social workers, law
clerks, and paraprofessionals to relieve attorneys from the responsibility of working
with conununity programs and service providers to develop alternative sentencing
options for their clients.
e. Pretrial
Reinstitute pretrial as the meaningful stage at which cases are assessed and settled, if
possible. This would also solve the consolidation problem. In the "Action Plan" a
detailed proposal for a mandatory settlement conference for all in-custody defendants is
included which will require cooperation with the courts and the Office of the District
Attorney. Implementing such a program at the earliest possible time would help to
alleviate the problem of long delays between the time of pretrial and preliminary
hearing described on page 12 of this assessment. It would also serve to reinforce the
need for internal improvements in case assignments and initial in-custody
attorney/client interviews.
The County needs to make sure there is a sufficiently qualified clerical staff for pretrial
events, which are both staff and paperwork intensive.

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INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

january 200t) • Page 34

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Conclusion
The above chart summarizes the key findings and recommendations. It is intended to be
a summary and reference for implementing critical changes that are expected to have a
positive impact on the culture and processes of the OPD. However these issues must
also be analyzed in the context of the criminal justice system as a whole. The system,
which impacts the work of the OPD, must be carefully reviewed as well to establish
root causes and possible solutions to inefficiencies and delays.
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No clear outline of OPO's purpose exists, nor is
any aspect of this key organizational featme
imbued with real leadership or direction.

The County should require a reorganization of the
OPO, to include a policy and procedure manualannual performance reviews, regular attorney
meetings, and standard-setting for each division.

The strategies of the OPO are flawed by
unsystematic assignments of attorneys to courts
and by the lack of norms concerning minimal
practice management or expectations,

Simple and clearly written policies need to be
developed in a form that will be actively used by
attorneys in the office to create a culture of
accountability.

The structure of the OPO is not well adapted to
efficiency because it is not maximizing or even
properly managing the use of scarce personnel
resources.

The OPO personnel structure should be reconfigured
to provide for multiple grades of public defenders
with corresponding step increases based on
performance criteria.

ILPP finds that the OPD is missing a rewards
system in terms of salary, grades, and support
systems. Furthermore, the lack of management
and supervision may actually provide
disincentives to timely completion of required
work.

Policies on office coverage and attorney time in the
office need to be established, explained, and enforced.
Supervisors should be able to trade time at work,
where extra hours have been required, for time off.

ILPP finds that the means for doing OPO's
work are highly limited. Deficiencies in space,
technology, and filing procedures are evident.

Additional office space must be located and the file
managing system needs to be cleaned up and
organized. The IT architecture of the office must be
improved,

lLPP finds that the director and managers,
through conflict avoidance and lack of training.
undermine discipline and productivity.

OPO supervisors need training in how to supervise
their teams and how to respond to the office's serious
management needs.

ILPP finds that there is no one in the OPO who
is providing leadership for the organization in
order to maintain the vigor and balance of its
mission, strategies, structure, incentives,
helpful mechanisms, and relationships.

Leadership must be stl'engthened and other personnel
changes should be investigated.

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

JlInuary 2009 • Page 35

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The Action Plan
The County is expected to lead the implementation of these recommendations. The vast
majority of the recommendations are within the authority of the County and the ethical
duties of the Public Defender (OPD) to their clients. Sustainable improvement of the quality
of representation afforded indigent defendants in Allegheny County requires
complementary changes in the culture of the Criminal Division of the Court of Common
Pleas.

If most of the following recommendations are implemented in a rational, carefuL and
strategic manner, with attention to transparency and the active engagement of the attorneys
and staff in the OPD, the County can expect the results which it anticipated from previous
investments in the OPD, i.e., a well managed system of indigent representation that meets
Constitutional mandates and is cost efficient. Support from the Court of Common Pleas
Criminal Division and in some cases the District Attorney will be required to fully
implement the recommended changes in policy and procedure. It can reasonably be
anticipated that due to the process of reorganizing the OPD, which could take 12-18 months,
there may be some reassignment of cases and personnel which may impact the courts.

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Report recommendations have been compiled into tables to facilitat
systemic planning. The most critical are analyzed for implementation issues.

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Generally, the action plan treatment of the most important recommendations below
provides all or most of the follOWing information:
Recommendation:
Objective:
Lead Agency:
Logistics:
Costs:
Pros/Cons:
Savings:

A brief statement of the recommendation.
Supporting principle, e.g. improved representation,
reduction in delays, cost savings, etc.
Agency or agencies with statutory and or
administrative/ operational responsibility.
Implementation details and issues.
Estimated costs and other resource considerations, in general
terms.
Policy benefits and disadvantages of the proposaL
Estimated savings or approximate impact, formulated
conceptually.

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INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY Pl.ANNING (ILPP)

January 2009 • Page 36

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Time Frame:

Priority

Recommended timing (Stage 1,2,3, or 4).
• Stage 1: Implement immediately. These policy-oriented or
fundamental changes are critical and should happen
now, or as soon as possible.
• Stage 2: Implement shortly, within this next coming fiscal
year. These recommendations require planning and/ or
regular funding.
• Stage 3: Implement after review and/ or when funding is
available. These are mid- to longer-range options.
• Stage 4: Implement after further review, over time.
Recommended level of importance:
• A: Directly instrumental to achieving overall goals,
eliminating acknowledged deficiencies, and achieving
measurable efficiencies.
• B: Important.
• C: Very helpful and needed
,-Costs and Savings

In the discussion of very rough costs and savings, the following general terms are used:
1. "Minimal" cost: No new staff or buildings are needed. The cost might involve
some reassignment of staff time to new or alternate duties.
2. "Indirect" or "Contingent" savings: These savings result from the actions of the
group, coordinator, etc., not from the mere establishment of the position or
function. Also, most savings are dependent on the outcome of future findings, so
they cannot be quantified more specifically than "major," meaning millions;
"substantial," meaning hundreds of thousands, or "moderate," meaning $10K to
$100K

"Minor" costs: Usually under $25K.

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The Administrative Judge of the Court of Common Pleas Criminal Division should convene a committee
to review internal court procedures to insure the timely and orderly management of cases.

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

RECOMMENDAnONS
Recommendations to be Implemented by the County
Priorit
Recommendation
Implementation Time Frame
Stage
1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4
C
A
B
1. Require the reorganization of the Office of
•
the Public Defender (OPD).
2. Authorize and fund a new position of
Assistant Public Defender
3. Detail an experienced attorney with
management and policy experience to assist
the Director in the implementation of the
Action Plan,
4. Ensure that there is adequate access, space,
and furnishings for OPD attorneys to conduct
client interviews and for trial preparation in
ACJ·
5. Contract for LEXIS/NEXIS'services for use
by the OPD. -~~"
6. Assign a team of qualified space designers in
conjunction with OPD to assess the needs for
more office space and obtain additional office
space, preferably on the same floor as OPD, but
at minimum in the same building.
7, Conduct a salary study to adjust salaries of
attorneys to be in parity with the Allegheny
•
County District Attorney attorneys and comply
with the ACLU consent decree.
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8.
Conduct a workload study for all attorneys . ; ) ,
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land support staff
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to determine equitable caseloads.
9. With OPD, the County should review
computer
and internet access and usage to
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provide attorney's and support staff access as
needed to a computer and internet access.
10. With OPD representatives, the County HR
should explore revising the personnel structure
. to create a structure with multiple grades for
attorneys, with corresponding step increases
and increases for specialized skills, based on
performance criteria.

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Recommendations to be implemented by the OPD
Priorit'J
Implementation Time Frame
Recommendation
Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4
B
C
A
11. The oro "target team" should review the
paper flow within 01'0 from jail lists, to jail
interview, to conflict checks; opening new files;
and tracking case information into the file
including client correspondence, investigation,
discovery, checklists on file contents, automatic
prompts to complete file, e.g., client reminder
letters, witness follow-up, etc.
12. Within six months, the OPD should conduct
performance reviews for all employees and
annually thereafter, or more often as
appropriate.
13. The OPO should have a comprehensive
Office Manual that includes job descriptions
and performance standards, organizational
structure, internal communication, a trial
practice manual, and performance standards
for each unit and support staff.
14. TIle oro director should require that each
supervisor/ deputy director prepare a written
job description that includes job duties and
describes at least his/her qualifications to
supervise, accomplishments, training needs
for the unit and priorities for improving unit
management and performance.
15. The County should assign IT personnel
with the involvement of the oro to fully
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install the necessary K drive linkages
throughout 01'0.
16. With the County, personnel from OPO
should establish a Q/ A protocol consisting of
weekly random reviews of case files and
conferences with attorneys individual1y on
case preparation
17. With the help of Human Resources, OPO
should study personnel contracts and union
rules. Develop a way t?_elif!l.i.~~'pa:~:~!!l.t:
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attorneys who practice law on the side
immediately if possible.
18. The OPD should establish an internal
committee to review conflict policy and
implement mandatory training for all attorneys
specifically on communication with clients and
conflicts of interest.
19. The leadership and management of OPO
including unit supervisors should be provided
with management and supervision training
based on best human relations practices,

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specifically for law offices.
20. The OPD should create an internal problem
solving "target team" with a representative
from each unit and support staff that meets at
least monthly and is in communication with
the Director to solve problems and set
priorities.

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21. Schedule monthly All GPD Meetings with
agendas distributed in advance and open to all
staff. Monthly meetings could give way to
quarterly meetings as the reorganization
becomes complete.

•

•

22. For six months, assign one attorney to
supervise jail interviews, provide training on
interviewing clients, and monitor conflict
checks, the opening of files, and checking for
multiple cases. Weekly reports should be made
to the Director and the target team.

•

•

Recommendations to be Implemented bv the Court of Common Pleas
Priorltv
Recommendation
Implementation Time Frame
A
B
C Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4
23. The Administrative Judge of the Court of
Common Pleas Criminal Division should
convene a committee to review internal court
procedures to insure the timely and orderly
management of cases.

•

•

Division should revise and enforce discovery
rules to expedite the timely and continuing
production of discovery, hopefully by
electronic means.

•

•

:

25. Enforce the requirement of written motions
for continuances establishing good calise by
either OPO or aDA and if necessary adopt
appropriate rules.

•

•

'11'II-

Adopt rules requiring meaningful and timely
pretrial hearings in all cases.
26. The County should work with the Court of
Common Pleas to arrange access for the OPO
toCPCMS.
27. The Court of Common Pleas Criminal
Division should adopt Trial Court Performance
Measures to guide the assignment and
management of the criminal calendar.

•

•

24. The Court of Common Pleas Criminal

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January 2009 • Page 40

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

28, Adopt a calendar management system that
emphasizes flexibility, accountability, and
timelv use of judicial resources.
29. The expedited early disposition court
should be assessed to determine its
effectiveness in comparison to individual
calendaring and any necessary modifications to
policv or procedure made.

•

•

•

•

Recommendations to be Implemented by the Sherriff's Department
Recommendation
Implementation Time Frame
Prioritv
B
A
C Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4
30. The County should require the Sheriff to
review ACJ procedures for the production of
inmates for court in a timely manner and
tracking conflicting court dates I orders.

•

•""'-10

•

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January 2009. Page 4l

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_A_L_LE_'G_'H_E_N_Y_C_O_U_N_TY_O_FF_rC_E_'O_F_T_H_E_P_U_BL_rC_D_EF_E_N_D_ER_A_SS_E_SS_M_E_N_T
/

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ACTION PLAN FOR
SELECTED AND MOST IMPORTANT
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY RECOMMENDATIONS

The County

1.

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Recommendation: The County should require the comprehensive reorganization of
the Office of the Public Defender.

'-----.__ ~

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Objective:

To establish the organizational structure of the OPD, which will
support and sustain the provision of constitutionally competent
legal representation to indigent clients with accountability for the
public. To facilitate an atmosphere of team-building among
management.

Lead Agency:

County

Logistics:

OPD will have to be involved and take ownership of the process and
the process requires facilitation. This process could be accomplished
by means of a facilitated retreat involving professional management
consultants or volunteer managers from large public defender offices
throughout the country. The use of managers from successful public
defender offices would be ideal and would provide the kind of
leadership and mentoring needed in this office. Public Defender
managers are collegial and long-term relationships could be
established with successful leaders.

Cost:

Minimal if use of local human resources professionals is adequate. If
outside professionals are involved, costs may be higher, sometimes as
much as $200 per hour plus travel and lodging. If volunteer managers
from other public defender offices are utilized, travel and lodging costs
would be incurred.

Pros:

Reorganization is overdue and offers a structural means of
inserting accountability mechanisms into every unit of OPD.

Cons:

Requires dedicated time from OPD management, some research,
various related work, and facilitation to maintain momentum and
monitor the process.

Savings:

Actual savings in dollar amounts are difficult to quantify but
accountability is essential to ensuring that the public funds
appropriated to OPD are well used.

Time Frame;

Start immediately, Stage 1

Priority:

A

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

January 2009. Page 42

·)'f

2.·.1,.[

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

~'

2.
Recommendation: The County should authorize and fund a new position of Assistant
to the Director of OPD.
Objective:
.' 1

L''''

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I·

Respond to an acknowledged core deficiency in management
expertise and capability, and compensate for the excessive span of
control between the Director and the Deputy Directors. This
position should require a JD and management experience, and
should be filled as soon as the appropriate person can be hired; an
interim or acting capacity should be considered if there are delays
in the hiring process.

Lead Agency:

County

Cost:

Recruitment, screening and hiring a new employee plus the annual
cost of the position plus benefits ($75,000- 80,0(0)

Pros:

Much improved communication, strengthened infrastructure, and
day-to-day management

Cons:

Adds another position to OPD budget

Savings:

None in short ter~ but significant over time through improved
accountability for staff and resources.

Time Frame:

Stage 1

Priority:

A

3.
Recommendation: The County should assign an experienced la\'\)'er with
management and policy experience to assist the Director in the
implementation of the Action Plan and seek the advice of outside
public defender managers willing to assist.
Objective:

To accelerate the OPD reorganization
inunediate support to the Director

Lead Agency:

County

Logistics:

While the plan is being implemented, the assistaut would give up
other duties and work full time with the Director. Outside public
defender managers could be utilized when advice and assistance is
needed.

Costs:

Transfer of duties to another employee in the interim

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLlCY PLANNING (ILPP)

through

providing

January 2009. Page 43

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Pros:

The Action Plan is multifaceted and requires a clear uhands-on u
approach that cannot be accomplished by a single individual.

Cons:

May cause some disruption in originally assigned duties of the staff
member detailed to OPD

Savings:

Substantial in terms of saved time and efficiency

Time Frame:

Stage 1

Priority:

A

Recommendation: The County should provide adequate_JI,q~ess, space, an'd
furnishings for OPD attorneys, paralegal and investigators to
conduct confidential client interviews and for trial preparation both
inside ACJ.
Objective:

Protect
Constitutional
rights
of
defendants,
improve
communication between OPD attorneys and clients, and expedite
case preparation

Lead Agency:

County

Logistics:

May require modifications of procedure and space allocation.
Coordination with OPD as to needs is critical.

Cost!¥,Savings:

Enhances early case preparation through thorough investigation and
improved attorney-client communication.

Pros:

Better use of attorney time and improved communication with
clients

Cons:

May require access to telephones, copiers

Time Frame:

Stage 1

Priority:

A

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

January 2009 • Page 44

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

I

&1

5.

I

Recommendation: The County should contract for LEXISjNEXIS services for use by
the OPD.
Objective:

Essential to competent representation is ready access to legal
authority and commentary. LEXISjNEXIS is the recognized
national provider of law office legal research technology. Access to
this system would be the minimal standard for any law office.

II
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Lead Agency:

County

Logistics:

Revise existing contracts to ensure that each attorney and paralegal has
an individual password with unlimited usage.

II

Cost:

Minor. Some increase in annual contract cost can be anticipated but
may be adjusted for off-site coverage.

II

Savings:

Should result in significant and indirect savings by improving quality
of representation by providing attorneys and paralegals with direct
access to research capability for trial preparation, pre-trial motions,
and argument. This may also reduce demand on secretarial time.

Pros:

This would significantly raise the professional quality of the office
and improve retention.

Cons:

Costs

Time Frame:

Stage 2

Priority:

A

6.

II
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Si·'.·.···

Recommendation: The County should assign a qualified space planner in conjunction
with OPD to assess the need for more office space and obtain
.\
additional office space, preferably on the same floor as OPD, but at
a minimum in the same building.

I

II

Objective:

Provide adequate client interview and work space for staff,
including private offices for attorneys.

ill
II

Lead Agency:

County

Logistics:

Assess space needs, available county space, and relocation

ill.
IJ!.

Costs/Savings:

Additional office space and costs of relocation of other county
functions, if necessary

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLlCY PLANNING (ILPP)

January 2009 • Page 45

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II
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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Pros:

Improve morale, ensure confidentiality of client and witness
interviews and more efficient use of time, and improve trial
preparation and retention of attorneys and staff. Keep attorneys in
office to encourage adequate preparation for court.

Cons:

None

Time Frame:

Stage 2

Priority:

A

7.

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I
Recrimmendation: The County should cond"!1ct~ salary._~!t!gy to m1ke sure that the
salaries offered are in parrrywith--the salaries for attorneys with
comparable experience in the Allegheny County District Attorney's
Office and comply with the ACLU consent decree.
,

i

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Objective:

Establish an OPO that meets or exceeds Constitutional minimum
standards of representation. Maintain a professional office of welltrained and experienced career public defenders, capable of
handling the most serious cases and to eliminate the perception
that the OPD is a "training ground" for future private attorneys.
Improve morale and reduce attrition.

Lead Agency:

County

Logistics:

May require some outside assistance in working with the County HR;
will require the elimination of the practice of attorneys in OPD
working part time and maintaining a private practice.

Cost~Savings:

This study might produce findings that the salaries are not at parity.

Pros:

Better use of resources, quality of representation, and retention

Cons:

Will require additional appropriations

Time Frame:

Stage 2

Priority:

A

8.
Recommendation: The County should conduct a workload study for all attorneys and
support staff to determine equitable caseloads.

,t

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January 2009 • Page 46

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Objective:

Obtain an objective review of OPD management and internal
operations, reduce staff turnover, and improve representation

Lead Agency:

County

Cost:

Minimal, may require contracting with outside professionals who have
conducted similar studies in offices providing indigent representation
or may utilize the assistance of professional indigent defense groups
like NLADA or NCDA, perhaps at a lower cost.

Pros:

Provide objective guidance to the County Council in making
budgetary appropriations

Cons:

Time consuming and will require identifying and contracting with
an appropriate consultant to conduct the study

Savings:

Contingent

Time Frame:

Stage 2

Priority:

B

9.
Recommendation: The County with OPD staff should review computer and internet
access and usage to provide attorney's and support staff access,
when needed, with a computer.
Objective:
Improve the efficiency of the OPD and reduce secretarial costs
Lead Agency:

County

Logistics:

Assessment by staff, review of current budget appropriations, and
expedite purchasing, if necessary.

Costs/Savings:

If current appropriation is inadequate, additional funds will be
required. Training costs should be included or time off to attend
training offered in other county departments. Computers save time
and therefore, overall, savings can be expected.

Pros:

Computer and internet access is a minimum requirement of any
law office.

Cons:

May require additional funds

Time Frame:

Stage 2

Priority:

B

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January 2009. Page 47

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

10.
Recommendation: The County HR with OPD representation should explore revising
the OPD personnel structure to create a structure with multiple
grades for attorneys, with corresponding step increases, based on
performance criteria. The process shoulcJjnclucie th~elimination of .
part-time O!:'J.)_i1t.torneys~nd-·-pr~iubitstaffattorneys from
-l:'ngagingm private practice on the side.
Objective:

Create a personnel structure that matches the service being
provided, reward good performance with salary increases and
advancement opportunities, and create a work environment that
will attract and retain the most qualified attorneys. Pay equity with
attorneys from the Office of the District Attorney should be a goal.

Lead Agency:

County and OPD

Logistics:

Review personnel structures within the County, specifically the
District Attorney Office and offices in comparable jurisdictions for
alternative models

Costs/Savings:

This will likely require salary increases, but would limit the cost of
constant turnover requiring the replacement of experienced attorneys
with inexperienced attorneys and the resultant cost of training.

Pros:

Improved accountability, recruitment and retention

Cons:

Will have to renegotiate collective bargaining agreement

Time Frame:

Stage 2

Priority:

A

Recommendation: The OPD "target team" should review the "paper flow" within
OPD, including the creation of jail interview lists, jail interviews,
\ .
conflict checks, requirements for opening a new client case file, the
existence of multiple cases for individual clients, client
correspondence, investigation, discovery, automatic prompts to
..
complete the file, checklists on file contents, and forms, e.g., client
reminder letters, witness follow-up.
'

/

Objective:

To establish a file system that strongly supports case preparation
and disposition

Lead Agency:

OPO and County

.

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January 2009 • Page 48

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Logistics:

Time consuming process that should involve a trained IT person for
data processing efficiency.

Costs/Savings:

This will require a diversion of staff time from other duties, which will
have to be planned.

Pros:

Having case files organized, accessible and complete will make case
preparation easier and facilitate the early and accurate
assessment/ disposition of cases.

Cons:

None

Time Frame:

Stage 2

Priority:

A

12.
Recommendation: Within six months, the OPD should conduct performance reviews
for all employees and annually thereafter, or more often as
., appropriate. (Reviews should begin during the first quarter of
<,-._r'

Objective:

\.

2009.)

A comprehensive review of personnel strengths and weaknesses

subject to collective bargaining agreement,
advancements commensurate with performance.

with

salary

Lead Agency:

OPD and County

Logistics:

Notice and training of evaluators will be required. This is a
supervisory function to be developed with experienced human
resources specialists and in accordance with COlUlty procedures.
Advice from outside public defender agencies should be obtained to
adapt performance standards to attorney professional conduct
requirements.

Costs/Savings:

Staff time, specifically from supervisors

Pros:

Better use of resources, identification of training needs. Motivation
for a higher level of representation for the offices' clients.

Cons:

Good evaluations require training for evaluators, which is time
consuming.

Time Frame:

Stage 2

Priority:

B

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

January 2009 • Page 49

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF TIlE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

The OPD

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13.

/"

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Recommendation: The OPO should have a comprehensive Office Manual, that'
includes an explicit mission st~ement;orgaitizationalstructure, job
descriptions and qualifications, internal communication, trial
practice standards, and performance standards for each
organizational unit, including support staff.
Objective:

Establish a reference for staffing patterns, standards of
performance, with explicit expectations, definitions of the
responsibility of each internal unit, and guidance regarding trial
practice, including interviewing, case analysis, research, witness
preparation, examination of witnesses, etc.

Lead Agency:

OPO

Logistics:

Use reference manuals from comparable jurisdictions to expedite
the drafting of the Manual. This could be included as part of a
management retreat concept or allocated to the responsibilities of
an experienced attorney in the office.

Costs:

Minimal

Pros:

Sets basic organizational standards, rules and methods of
communication; reinforces shared expectations and strengthens
accountability

Cons:

None

Savings:

Major over time; substantial immediately

Time Frame:

Start immediately, Stage 1

Priority:

A, Critical

14.
Recommendation: The OPO director should require that each current supervisor and
deputy director, prepare a ~ritt{:'n job descriptiQ!l~llat includes job
duties and describes his/her qualifications' to supervise,
accomplishments as a supervisor, use of performance measures for
personnel supervised, supervisory training needs, and an analysis
of OPO with recommendations for improvement.

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

January 2009 • Page 50

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Objective:

Identify attorneys and staff who are willing and able to supervise, /
identify their training needs, appoint those attorneys as
supervisors, and engage supervisors in the reorganization process.

Lead Agency:

OPO

Logistics:

This review should be completed within a brief (two week) period by
the Director in conjunction with a consultant and a representative from
County HR.

Cost:

Minimal

Pros:

This recommendation responds to one of the regularly identified
weaknesses in OPD and is essential to a successful reorganization. The
active involvement of supervisors is essential to encouraging staff
ownership of the process and identifying obstacles to reorganization.
Good supervision is an important tool to reduce turnover while
improving the quality of representation.

Cons:

Takes time away from other duties and reorganization may result in
short term disruptions due to replacement of supervisors. This
probably requires notice to the bargaining unit.

Savings:

Supervisors are the key to case management within the OPO, making
the best use of attorney and staff time, and reducing turnover.

Time Frame:

Stage 1

Priority:

A, Critical

/
15

I

I

. . '1'" • i.

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"

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'

( \ <, Recommendation:

The County should assign IT personnel to fully install the necessary
K drive linkages throughout OPO.

Objective:

To set up a reliable mechanism for intra-Department
conununication and coordination and sharing information.

Lead Agency:

Executive, OPO

Cost:

Minor

Pros:

Improves sharing of information, including pleadings, research and
information on witnesses/jurors, and makes valuable resources
universally available, e.g., a brief bank.

Cons:

May require some training

Savings:

Major, over time

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January 2009. Page 51

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Time Frame:

Stage 1

Priority:

A

d{-

16.

1(-'

'

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Recommendation: OPD should establish a Quality Assistance Protocol (QI A) that
includes weekly random review of case files by a Supervisor and
conferences as needed by the office's second in command, with
attorneys individually on case preparation.
Objective:

Insure that case files are complete and updated; improve trial
preparation and communication with clients.

Lead Agency:

OPD

Cost:

None

Pros:

QI A protocol will provide an on the spot remedy for potential
problems as well as prompt feedback to management regarding
needs for changes in procedure, resources, and training.

Cons:

Takes time away from other duties

Savings:

Significant in short and long tenn

Time Frame:

Stage 1

Priority:

A

\\"

17.
Recommendation: With the help of Human Resources, study personnel contracts and
union rules, Develop a way to eliminate part-time attorneys
who practice law on the side immediately if possible. If contracts
are already in place, either buy them out or let them expire.
Objective:

To end a practice that is antithetical to the mission of any public
defender's office. The competent representation of public defender
clients requires loyal and zealous representation of each individual
client. To establish a team of attorneys who put the interests of
public defender clients before any other.

Lead Agency:

OPD and Human Resources

Logistics:

Identifying union issues, contract issues or county charter issues
that may make eliminating this practice difficult.

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

January 2009 • Page 52

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

CostS:

If part-time attorneys are under contract or have union affiliation
with collective bargaining rights, there may be costs associated
with eliminating their private practices. One solution may be to
full-time employment or offer buy-outs.

Savings:

The savings of running smooth calendars, early disposition of
cases, early sentencing and release of in-custody clients is
immeasurable.

Pros:

Ending the culture of delay which is so costly to the county.

Cons:

Resistance from attorneys who capitalize on the practice.

Time Frame:

Stage 1

Priority:

A

18.

, l

Reco~menaation:

The OPD should establish an internal committee to review the
conflict policy and to implement mandatory ethics training for all
attorneys, specifically on communication with clients and conflicts
of interest.

Objective:

Improve case disposition and insure that the OPD provides
representation in full compliance with Canons of Ethics at all times.

Lead Agency:

OPD

Logistics:

This can be accomplished with assistance from other public defender
groups. Legal ethics are largely national and organizations such as
The National Legal Aid and Defender Association and the National
Criminal Defense Association can be of invaluable assistance.

Cost:

None

Pros:

Ethical law practice

Cons:

None

Savings:

Significant savings in terms of litigation costs for challenges to
representation and the considerable cost of unnecessary conflict
defense representation.

Time Frame:

Stage 2

Priority:

A

\

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January 2009 • Page 53

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

/

19.
Recommendation: The leadership of OPD, including unit supervisors, should be
provided with management and supervision training based on best
human resources practices and specifically for law offices.

til

Objective:

Improve overall management, accountability and retention

Lead Agency:

OPD

Logistics:

Identify appropriate local trainers or training programs.

Costs/Savings:

Cost of attending programs, ranging from $500-1,000 each. Or cost of
bringing outside experts and managers from other public defender
offices to provide training programs (which may be most cost
efficient).

Pros:

Better use of resources; will produce more skilled supervisors who
can solve personnel problems as they arise, make recommendations
to improve management, and strengthen lines of communication
within the department.

Cons:

To be meaningful the training must be repeated and ongoing.

Time Frame:

Stage 2

Priority:

A

.\

20.

Recommendation: The OPD should create an internal "target team" with a
representative from each unit and support staff that meets at least
monthly and is in regular communication with the Director to solve
problems and set priorities.
Objective:

Improve lines of communication within the Department and solve
problems quickly when possible

Lead Agency:

OPD

Logistics:

Assign appropriate people from each unit

Costs/Savings:

Time away from other duties but invaluable savings in identifying
duplicate efforts at problem solving,

Pros:

Improved response time to concerns and sharing of information at
all levels

Cons:

Time away from other duties

INSTITUTE FOR LAW AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

January 2009. Page 54

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Time Frame:

Stage 2

Priority:

B

.

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21.

.

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Recommendation: The OPD should schedule monthly All OPQ....Meetings with agendas
distributed in advance and open- to all staff. Monthly meetings
could give way to quarterly meetings as the reorganization
becomes complete.
Objective:

Encourage ownership in OPO reorganization and improve
communication within the Department. Also, identify training
needs and assess problem areas.

Lead Agency:

OPD

Logistics:

Backup and/or alternative scheduling needs to be arranged for
participants to guarantee full court and office coverage.

Costs/Savings:

Improved sharing of infommtion

Pros:

Improved morale and transparency of decision making

Cons:

Time consuming; arranging coverage may be difficult for all staff
who might want to participate.

Time Frame:

Stage 2

Priority:

B

22.

Recommendation: For the next six months, the OPD should assign one senior attorney
to supervise jail interviews, provide individual training on
interviewing clients, supervise conflict checks, and monitor the
opening of case files. Weekly reports should be made to the OPD
Director and the target team.
Objective:

Determine where there are deficiencies in the early stages of
representation and provide on the spot training, reconunendations
or information, as well as keep the Director and target team
informed

Lead Agency:

OPD

Logistics:

Identifying the appropriate attorney and arranging coverage for
his/her cases

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January 2009 • Page 55

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Cost&,Savings:

No additional costs; significant savings in time, reduced continuances,
and better use of resources

Pros:

Better use of resources

Cons:

None

Time Frame:

Stage 2

Priority:

B

The Courts
23.

Recommendation: The Administrative Judge of the Court of Common Pleas Criminal
Division should convene a committee to review internal court
procedures to insure the timely and orderly management of cases.
Objective:

\1

Lead Agency:

Objective examination of how the court culture, formal and
informat impacts case management

~=:trative

Judge of the Court of Common Pleas Criminal

Logistics:

Such a committee should include experienced attorneys who regularly
handle cases from the OPD and ODA.

Cost:

None

Pros:

Offers an opportunity for the Court to identify issues that
negatively impact case processing and obtain input about solutions
from those affected on and off the bench. Also offers the
opportunity for communication and discussion of problem areas
for the OPD, ODA, and the courts.

Cons:

Although committees and procedural change are time consuming
and often encounter resistance, improved case management will
later result in strong support.

Savings:

Significant

Time Frame:

Stage 1

Priority:

A

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January 2009 • Page 56

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

24.

Recommendation: The Court of Common Pleas Criminal Division should revise and
enforce discovery rules to expedite the timely and continuing
production of discovery, hopefully by electronic means.
Objective:

To ensure that Constitutional standards are met and reduce the
number of continuances based on incomplete or untimely
discovery

Lead Agency:

Administrative Judge of the Court of Common Pleas Criminal
Division

Cost:

None

Pros:

Improves case management by supporting early disposition of cases,
meaningful pretrial hearings, and relieves pressure on trial calendars

Cons:

None

Savings:

Significant immediately and over time for the courts, court staff, law
enforcement by reducing continuances and in improved relations with
the general public who can be assured that cases will proceed in a
timely fashion to a detemlination of guilt or innocence.

Time Frame:

Stage 1

Priority:

A

tl
I
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II
II
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II
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25.

Recommendation: The Court of Common Pleas Criminal Division should enforce the
requirement of written motions for continuances establishing good
cause by either aPD or aDA and if necessary adopt appropriate
rules.
Objective:

End the culture of automatic continuances and restore calendar
control to the judges.

Lead Agency:

Administrative Judge of the Court of Common Pleas Criminal
Division

Cost:

None

Pros:

Restore control of court calendars to judges. Encourage better
preparation and organization on the part of the District Attorneys
and defense counsel.

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January 2009 • Page 57

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Cons:

Some resistance to change and could possibly lead to unprepared
counsel going forward.

Savings:

Significant

Time Frame:

Stage 1

Priority:

A

26.

Recommendation: The County should work with the Court of Common Pleas to
authorize secure access for GPO to CPCMS,
Objective:

To enforce timely processing of cases to alleviate and eventually
eliminate excessive continuances attributable to delayed or incomplete
discovery, conflicting court dates, failure to consolidate cases, and the
tardy discovery of conflicts.

Lead Agency:

Courts

Cost:

Minimal; possible time to add computer capability and training

Pros:

The GPO represents the vast majority of criminal defendants and in
order to manage appearances and case readiness, needs direct access
to the courts' calendars and the capability to obtain, send, and file
documents electronically.

Cons:

Concerns about secure access. These concerns can be alleviated
through technology with password protection, firewalls and
confidentiality provisions and with the ultimate prohibition of GPO
attorneys conducting private practice on the side.

Savings:

Substantial; fewer continuances based on calendar conflicts, expedited
filing of motions, and improved exchange of discovery.

Time Frame:

Stage 2

Priority:

A

27.

.1

Recommendation: The Court of Common Pleas Criminal Division should adopt Trial
Court Performance Measures to guide the assignment and
management of the criminal caseload.

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICYPI..ANNING (ILPP)

January 2009 • Page 58

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Objective:

Improved monitoring of case management

Lead Agency:

Administrative Judge of the Court of Conunon Pleas Criminal
Division

Logistics:

May require outside consultant

Costs/Savings:

Contracting, possibly through the NCSC ($15-25,000)

Pros:

Better use of time and judicial and staff resources

Cons:

May encounter some resistance to change from the bench

Time Frame:

Stage 2

Priority:

B

28.

Recommendation: The Court of Common Pleas Criminal Division should adopt a
calendar management system that emphasizes flexibility,
accountability and timely use of judicial resources.
Objective:

Improved case management and allocation of judicial resources

Lead Agency:

Administrative Judge of the Court of Common Pleas Criminal
Division

Logistics:

May require outside consultant

Costs/Savings:

Contracting, (for example, through the National Center for State
Courts) at perhaps $15-25,000

Pros:

Better use of resources and service to the public

Cons:

None

Time Frame:

Stage 2

Priority:

B

i.".l

I"'
I'
I'

29.
Recommendation: The expedited disposition court should be assessed to determine its
effectiveness in comparison to individual calendaring. Necessary
adjustments should be made in light of this assessment.
Objective:

Identify any obstacles to expedited disposition

Lead Agency:

Court of Common Pleas Criminal Division, DA, OPD

Cost:

None

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLlCY PLANNING (ILPP)

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I
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i
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i

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January 2009 • Page 59

fl
f'

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Pros:

Will lead to better allocation of limited court resources. All parties
should participate in this assessment to determine future
effectiveness.

Cons:

Will require some data collection, interviews, and analysis.

Savings:

Significant

Time Frame:

Stage 3

Priority:

B
The Sheriff's Department

30.

Recommendation: The County should require the Sheriff to review ACJ procedures
for the production of inmates in a timely manner in court and for
tracking conflicting court dates and/ orders.
Objective:

Reduce continuances based on unavailability of defendants or
witnesses, conflicting court dates, and inadequate custodial
personnel

Lead Agency:

Sheriff's Office

Logistics:

Review policy and procedure and internal record keeping

Cost~Savings:

Reduce number of continuances and court appearances.

Pros:

Ensures that cases are fully ready to proceed to trial, disposition, or
sentencing on the date and time calendared

Cons:

None

Time Frame:

Stage 2

Priority:

B

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICYPI..ANNING (ILPP)

January 2009 • Page 60

iii

'I!

All.EGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBUC DEFENDER AsSESSMENT

APPENDICES
A. Seven Box Model Chart
B. PD Appendix Data

Figure 1: March-May 2008 Trial Postponement Reasons
Figure 2: Reasons for the Postponement at Trial Level in Criminal
Division in 2007
Figure 3: Breakdown of Judges for All Postponements for April 2008
Figure 4: Case Management Capital Budget Request
Figure 5: Budget Narrative
Figure 6: Attorney Records 2008
Figure 7: Attorney Records 2007
C. Model Defender Act Summary

D. Summary 98 ACLU Lawsuit
E. 10 Basic Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System
F. Bibliography
G. Resources

fJi.•·.

H. Contacts

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POI.ICYPLANNING (ILPP)

I

January 2009 • Page 61

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER AsSESSMENT

Appendix A
Illustration of the Seven-Box Model

There are seven organizational processes which should be examined in order to understand
the needs of a correctional institution. The model shown below is an attempt to illustrate
these seven interrelated processes which can be observed in all correctional organizations.

District Attorney
Clerk

Victims

/

Legislature

/
Courts

""-Offenders

Taxpayers

Criminal Justice Agencies

County Board
Environment

Offenders' Families
Bondsmen

11

11
JI
!~

Witnesses

Polk:e
Offenders' Associates

Reproduced and adapted with permission of M. Weisbord and Organization Research Development, a
division of Block, Petralia Associates.
Source: M, Weisbord, "Organizational Diagnosis: Six Places to Look for Trouble With or Without a Theory,"
Group and Organization Studies (1976) 1:430,

11
INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

f!I]

Appendix A January 2009. Page 1

'II.
iI.;~

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER AsSESSMENT

Appendix B

If
If

FIGURE 1: March-May 2008 Trial Postponement Reasons

FIGURE l(A): Reason for Postponements
Reason for
Postponements

Counts

Percentage

DACC
Conflict
Drug Court
Private Counsel
586
Mental Health
ARD
Consolidation
Judge
PD,
Deft.
D.A.
Total

2
5
10
10
15
22
25
32
40
44
46
76

0.62
1.56
3.12
3.12
4.67
6.85
7.79
9.79
12.46
13.71
14.33
23.68

11
II

321

FIGURE l(B): Breakdown of Postponements by Reasons for Defendants
Reason for Deft. (defendant
waiting for entry into program)

Counts

Percentage out of
Deft. (46 counts)

Percentage out of reasoning
(321 counts)

D.A.
Judge
Private Counsel
DACC
Drug Court
586
ARD
I\lental Health
Total

1
1
1
2
9
10
20
21

1.54%
1.54%
1.54%
3.08'10
13.85%
15.38%.
30.77(1"
32.31%

0.31%
0.31%
0.31%
0.62%
2.80%
3.12%
6.23%
6.54%

if
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I

.65

SOURCE: Allegheny Courl of Common Pleas
• Created from postponement data sent from Allegheny Court of Common Pleas

fI·::r.'

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fl.·.·,:.·.··

*
INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (lLPP)

Appendix B

January 2009. Page 3

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER AsSESSMENT

FIGURE 2: Reasons for the Postponements at Trial Level in Criminal Division in 2007
;. -''>,Y':I.':

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Defendant Not Ready - Defendant
Defendant Not Ready - Defense Attorney
Prosecution Not Ready - DA
Other
Prosecution Witness Unavailable - DA
ARD Interview
Prosecution Not Ready - Police
Pending ARD
Prosecution Witness Unavailable - Police
Pending Mental Health Court
Pending Drug Court
Defendant to Obtain Private Attorney or Public Defender
Snow Day
Pending DUI Court
Courthouse Closed
JUdge is III
Defense Witness Unavailable - Defendant
PSI Not Complete
Attorney Unavailable
No Information filed by D.A.
Hold for Dr. Letter
PDQ Interview

::': c.' ', •.\.;-::,<~" F",- ,~'.

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CaseCoul1t

6690
5020
659
643
376
106
96
76
63
33
31
30
15

9
7
6
4

4
3
2

1
1

'1,·13875 "

SOURCE: Common Pleas Case Management System (CPCMS)

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INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

I

,m
'.,

Appendix B

January 2009 • Page 2

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER AsSESSMENT

FIGURE 3: Breakdown by Judges of All Postponements for April 2008
'NOTE; ALL JUDGES' NAMES HAVE BEEN REPLACED BY NUMBERS

0113
0113
0113
0113

Defendant Not Ready - Defendant
Defendant Not Ready - Defendant
Pending ARD
Prosecution Not Ready - DA
Prosecution Witness Unavailable - DA

0102
0102

Defendant Not Ready - Defendant
Prosecution Not Ready - DA

92.75%

0103
0103
0103
0103
0103
0103
0103

Defendant Not Ready - Defendant
Defendant Not Ready - Defense
Other
Prosecution Not Ready - DA
Prosecution Not Ready - Police
Prosecution Witness Unavailable - DA
Prosecution Witness Unavailable -

22.31%

0114
0114
0114

Defendant Not Ready - Defense
Prosecution Not Ready - Police
Prosecution Witness Unavailable - DA

98.31%

0106
0106
0106
0106

Defendant Not Ready - Defendant
Defendant Not Ready - Defense
Pending DUI Court
Prosecution Not Ready - DA

0110
0110
0110
0110
0110
0110
0110

ARD Interview
Defendant Not Ready - Defendant
Defendant Not Ready - Defense
Prosecution Not Ready - DA
Prosecution Not Ready - Police
Prosecution Witness Unavailable - DA
Prosecution Witness Unavailable -

0100
0100
0100
0100
0100
0100

Defendant Not Ready - Defendant
Defendant Not Ready - Defense
Other
Pending ARD
Pending Drug Court
Prosecution Not Ready - DA

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

94.24%
0.72%

2.16%
2.88%

7.25%

68.60%
1.65%

4.13%
0.83%

1.65%
0.83%

0.85%
0.85%

0.87%

92.17%
0.87%

6.09%

2.04%
62.24%
23.47%

6.12%
3.06%

1.02%
2.04%

17.65%

41.18%
2.35%

9.41%

2.35%
4.71%

Appendix B

January 2009 • Page 3

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

0100
0100

Prosecution Not Ready - Police
Prosecution Witness Unavailable - DA
Prosecution Witness Unavailable -

0109
0109

Defendant Not Ready. Defendant
Prosecution Not Ready - DA

0107
0107
0107
0107

Defendant Not Ready - Defendant
Prosecution Not Ready - DA
Prosecution Not Ready - Police
Prosecution Witness Unavailable - DA

0111
0111
0111
0111

Defendant Not Ready - Defendant
Prosecution Not Ready - DA
Prosecution Witness Unavailable - DA
Prosecution Witness Unavailable -

0108
0108
0108
0108

ARD Interview
Defendant Not Ready - Defendant
Defendant Not Ready - Defense
Prosecution Witness Unavailable - DA

0105
0105
0105
0105

Defendant Not Ready - Defendant
Defendant Not Ready - Defense
Other
Prosecution Witness Unavailable - DA

0104
0104

Defendant Not Ready - Defense
Other

0101
0101
0101

Defendant Not Ready - Defendant
Other
Prosecution Witness Unavailable - DA

0112

Defendant Not Ready - Defendant

0100

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TOTAL COUNTS OF CONTINUANCE
REASONS

2
13
4
85 (7.94%)
75
8
83 (7.76%)
69
8
1
2
80 (7.48%)
31
3

3
2
39 (3.64%)
2
8
9
2
21 (1.96%)
3
2
5
2
12 (1.12%)
5
2
7 (0.65%)
4
1
2
7 (0.65%)
6
6 (0.56%)

2.35%
15.29%
4.71%
90.36%
9.64%
86.25%
10.00%
1.25%
2.50%
79.49%
7.69%
7.69%
5.13%
9.52%
38.10%
42.86%
9.52%
25.00%
16.67%
41.67%
16.67%
71.43%
28.57%
57.14%
14.29%
28.57%
100.00%

1MD

SOURCE: Common Pleas Case Management System (CPCMS)

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

Appendix B January 2009 • Page 4

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Character Totals:

Requested

Personnel

1i_'1tlii'lmi$~~'l1t!
,....""".. -..,.... _"~"'~-,"""''" ..., ...~ ,~. - ~~~"0,:'"
Services
Supplies
Materials
Repairs & Maintenance
Capital Outlay
Recovery / Cont SVC5
Totals

0

5,692,264
2,007,600
411,400
51,000
0
1,600
7,350
0
8,171,214

Operating
4,863,733
1,695,319
366,400
51,000
0
1,300
7,194
0
6,984,946

Adopted
DHS

en

-- 578,806

Total Adopted
5,442,539
1,893,860
366,400
51,000
0
1,300
7,194

198,541
0
0
0
0
0
0
777,347

0

Difference

0
7,762,293

-249,725
-113,740
-45,000
0
0
-300
-156
0
-408,921

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...,
~
ro

0...,

~

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~

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g:. S
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ro
....::s
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= n
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Personnel Detail

n'

....
Z

Requested

Cl

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.......

tr.l
~

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e:;:::l
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Base Salaries
Adam Hill (FMLA
Dan Miller (Military Leave)
Union Increases
Mgmt Increases
USW Settlement

5,103,432
41,725
41,725
101,976
25,029
102,000

Adopted

U

ro

Difference

5,103,432
0
0
126,766
0
100,000

;:l
0..

0
-41,725 not on payroll as of 5/24
-41 ,725 on payroll 5/24
24,790
-25,029
-2,000

ro

....

5,415,887

5,330,198

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0
c::

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0

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rl

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0
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C

.......

'"0

~

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:::$:I..

CJG

...:;:::l
I'D

I'D

..0

:::

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'Il

-85,689

:I:

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Total Base Salaries

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New Positions
6 PT Law Clerks
50000
3 Seasonal File Clerks
15600
Clerk Typist
24378
Office Manager
31200
Legal Secretary
25106
Legal Secretary
25106
Clerk Typist
23846
Legal Assistant
25008
Sr. Investigator
38382.96

'0

•
....,

I~

50,000
15,600
24,378
31,200
25,106
25.106
23,846
25,008
38.383
258,627
5,674,514

0
0
0
31,200
0
0
0
25,008
38,383
94.591
5,424,789

-50,000
-15,600
-24,378
0
-25,106
-25,106
-23.846
0
-164,036
-249,725

5,674,514

5.424,789

-249,72.5

0

;.>

()Ql
r:

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:.n

Pi!ltsl,

!¢IIMel_

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.!ilW1] 1iI!1J;;;

••~3i ~£J IIIi'JIi

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ALLEGfIENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER AsSESSMENT

FIGURE 5: Budget Narrative
The budget increase which would take into account increases in staff, attorneys,
management, and systems was made in discussion with the administration. There is no
system to request x and then be told no. The discussion centered around 6-8 additional
lawyers (3 in trial; 1 in Appeals; 1 in Juvenile; 3 in Prelim). This was based on the
caseload data that stated the % increases through our hard data. Also, there was
discussion to increase managers in Trial: 1 in Homicide and 2 in trial. This would
achieve the highest quality in respect to file review which is the true barometer of what
happened in case preparation. Look at a file through the new data management system
(infra) and immediately know what was done on the file. The addition of a supervisor
in Juvenile and appeals would reduce supervision to a supervisor per 6 lawyers. This
would achieve the same result as the increase in Trial. The new structures to encourage
stability would be senior lawyers and senior support staff. This would keep the quality
lawyers and support staff. Also, per my request as part of the capital budget, $100,000
has been set aside for a data management system. This would revolutionize the case
flow and the ability to review all cases. Also, $25,000 was set aside for space changes.
This ties into the push and success with the Allegheny County Bar association Bd of
govs passing a resolution to support our state wide funding initiative (the first Bar
Assoc in the state); the letter to the Deputy speaker of the house requesting an audience
in Harrisburg; the successful letter to a state senator to be put on the state wide task
force studying indigent defense and the funding of PD offices; the future non profit
which will fund training and future salaries.
SOURCE: Allegheny Office of the Public Defender

']~

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INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

Appendix B January 2009 • Page 6

ALlEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Appendix C

Summary of Model Public Defender Act
Through decades of Supreme Court decisions, it is established that a needy
person is entitled to the same protections and rights of representation as a person of
adequate means. Not only is the right to counsel absolute, but that right is extended to
all aspects of an "adequate defense," including those necessary for investigation and
trial. The National Legal Aid and Defender Association created the Model Public
Defender Act (MDA) not to define the exact limits of the right to an adequate defense,
but to outline some of the protections that a needy person should receive if paid for by
the state, and through provisions affecting. The MDA serves herein as a de facto review
standard.
Rights include provisions with the necessary pre-sentence investigation and
preparation, and the right to be counseled and defended at every stage, including
revocation of probation or parole, appeal, and other post-conviction proceedings. These
rights are not affected by a needy person having previously provided the benefit at his
own expense, or by having waived the right at an earlier stage.
The proper authorities must inform a needy person of their right to an attorney, and
if they cannot afford one, must subsequently notify the appropriate public defender.
Notification should be given upon detention, formal change, or post conviction
proceeding, and may include co-counselor associate counsel. Attorneys representing
needy persons should be given reasonable compensation based on the complexity, time,
and other factors of the case. To ensure public defenders meet the same standards as
someone otherwise represented, the public defender is entitled to use any state, county,
or municipal technical services and facilities available to the prosecutor.
The Defender General's office is responsible for the oversight of the Public
Defender system, and has several key responsibilities he or she must carry out to ensure
popper functioning of the public defender apparatus. To ensure these responsibilities
are paramount, neither the Defender General nor his deputies may practice law outside
of their official duties. In order to better provide needy persons with legal services,
then Defender General may contact outside organizations that are equipped to provide
services and consultation in such areas including the training of public defender,
administration of criminal justice, and the administration of the Office of the Public
Defender. The Defender General may employ deputies, public defenders, investigators,
clerks, stenographers, and other persons necessary to carry out his or her
responsibilities. Finally, the Defender General should submit an annual report to the
governor and legislature on the number of persons represented, the crimes involved,

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

Appendix C January 2009 • Page I

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51

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER ASSESSMENT

Appendix F

Bibliography
Abel R.L. "Law Without Politics: Legal Aid Under Advanced Capitalism". UCLA Law
Review 474: 1985.
Allegheny County Criminal Rules of Court
American Bar Association. Standards for Crimi/wi Justice: Providing Defense Se/1Jices, 3rd
Edition. Washington D.C.: ABA Press, 1992.
American Bar Association. ABA Standards for Criminal Justice Prosecution Function and
Defense Function, 3rd Edition. Washington D.C.: ABA Press, 1993.

l
I

American Bar Association. Standards Relating to Court Organization, 1990 Edition.
Washington D.C.: ABA Press, 1990.
American Bar Association. Stmldards Relating to Trial Courts, 1992 Edition. Washington
D.C.: ABA Press, 1992.
Brantingham P.L. liThe Burnaby, British Columbia Experimental Public Defender
Project: An evaluation" (report 1: summary). Department of Justice, Ottawa:
1981.
c~-----

Brantingham P.L. and Brantingham P.J. "An Evaluation of Legal Aid in British
Columbia". Department of Justice, Ottawa: 1984.

11

•
ItI

JI

'11'-

•..·.·.·..,.
1.;~

Bureau of Justice Assistance. Trial Court Performance Standards and Measurement System.
Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs,
November 1995.
Cain, A. and M. Kravitz. "Public Defenders Programs - A Selected Bibliography". 1978.
National Institute of Justice. 30 June 2008.
<http://www.ncjrs.gov/App!Publications!abstract.aspx?ID=49096>.
Canadian Bar Association Standing Committee. "Legal Aid Delivery Models: A
Discussion Paper". Department of Justice, Ottawa: 1987.
Chabotar, Kent John. Analyzing Costs in the COllrts. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department
of Justice, National Institute of Justice, January 1987.

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLIC)' PLANNING (ILPP)

Appendix F January 2009 • Page 1

AIJ..EGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER AsSESSMENT

Cole, George F. "Performance Measures for the Trial Courts, Prosecution, and Public
Defense." In Pelformance Measures for the Criminal Justice System by the Bureau of
Justice Statistics-Princeton University Study Group on Criminal Justice
Performance Measures. Washington D.C.: U.s. Department of Justice, Office of
Justice Programs, October 1993.
Crockett A. "Salaried legal services", Legal Aid Commission of Victoria, Melbourne:
1994.
Currie A. "The Legal Aid Manitoba Expanded Duty Counsel Project: Project
Evaluation". Department of Justice, Ottawa: 1996.
Currie, A. "Legal Aid Delivery Models in Canada: Past Experience and Future
Development". Department of Justice, Ottawa: 1998.
Feeney, Floyd and Jackson. "Public Defenders, Assigned Counsel, Retained Counsel:
Does the Type of Criminal Defense Counsel Matter?". Rutgers Law Journal Vol
22:361: 1991.

Financing of the District Courts and Public Defense System, Presentation Before the Joint
Legislative Commission on Planning and Fiscal PoliClJ. St. Paul: 21 December 1988.
Goriely T. "Legal Aid Delivery Systems: Which Offer the Best Value For Money in Mass
Casework? A summary of International Experience". Lord Chancellors
Department: 1997.
Goriely T. "Revisiting the debate over criminal legal aid delivery models: viewing
international experience from a British perspective". Institute of Advanced Legal
Studies: 1998.
Hewitt, William E., Gallas, Geoff, and Mahoney, Barry. Courts That Succeed: Six Profiles
of Successful Courts. Virginia: National Center for State Courts, 1996.
Jacoby, Joan. Basic Issues in Prosecution and Public Defender Pelformance. Washington
D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, July 1982.
Judge M.P. "Los Angeles County: Office of the Public Defender". 1998.

.~

.1
I'· .
I

"
;;f:'.

I'

Ii.'

Justice. A public defender". London: 1987.

If'
1.

JJ

'.···.··.1..·•

II

I'
INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLlCY PLANNING (ILPP)

Appendix F January 2009 • Page 2

ALLEGHENY COUNlY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER AsSESSMENT

creation of an intake questionnaire to be completed with respect to every client during
the initial interview. This document would then be updated with information such as
jury trial demand, alibi witnesses, and the facts of any defense no later than the
preliminary hearing. In effect, the questionnaire would become a living document that
would be revised to include pertinent information by every attorney that would handle
the file.

,
\l

In addition, the Panel also recommended that the OPD adopt a form letter
regarding the purpose of the preliminary hearing. Tills letter would explain the
purpose of the preliminary hearing, the duty of the prosecution, and the burden of
proof. Due the lack of literacy of many OPD clients, the Panel recommended that
employees of the GPO read and explain the letter so that clients understand and
acknowledge the purpose of the proceedings. Finally, the Panel recommended that trial
counsel review the information in the intake questionnaire prior to the pre-trial
conference in order to ensure continuity of representation. In all the instances,
employees of the OPO should sign the document to ensure accountability.
On January 14, 2005 the Court determined the Allegheny Office of the Public
Defender had sufficiently complied with the disputed terms of the Settlement and
Consent Decree. Based on the changes made to the operation and administration of the
GPO, the Settlement Agreement and the Consent Decree were terminated.

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

Appendix D January 2009 • Page 2

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFHCE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER AsSESSMENT

(6) Defense counsel's ability, training, and experience match the complexity of the case.

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(7) The same attorney continuously represents the client until completion of the case.

~...•..il.

Appendix E

10 Basic Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System
February 2002-- adopted by tile HOI/se of Delegates ABA

(1) The public defense function, including the selection, funding and payment of
defense counsel, is independent.
(2) Where the caseload is sufficiently high, the public defense delivery system consists
of both a defender office, and the active participation of the private bar.
(3) Clients are screened for eligibility and the defense counsel is assigned and notified of
appointment, as soon as feasible after clients' arrest, detention, or request for counsel.
(4) Defense counsel is prOVided sufficient time and a confidential space with which to
meet with the client.
(5) Defense counsel's workload is controlled to permit the rendering of quality
representation.

(8) There is parity between defense counsel and the prosecution with respect to
resources and defense counsel is included as an equal partner in the justice system.
(9) Defense counsel is provided with and required to attend continuing legal education
(10) Defense counsel is supervised and systematically reviewed for quality and
efficiency according to nationally and locally adopted standards.

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLlCY PLANNING (ILPP)

Appendix E

January 2009. Page I

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II.'.···

"

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER AsSESSMENT

Legal Action Group. "Shaping the future: new directions in legal services". 1995.
Legal Aid Commission of Queensland: Annual report 1996/97.
Manitoba, Legal Aid Manitoba, Annual Report 1998/99.
McConville M., Hodgson J., Bridges 1. and Pavlovic A. (1994): "Standing Accused: The
Organization and Practices of Criminal Defense lawyers in Britain". Clarendon
Press, Oxford.
McEnroe, Paul. "Going It Alone: Pro Se Litigation." Bench & Bar, February 1996, 17-20.
National Criminal Justice Reference Service. Caseweighting Systems for Prosecutors:
Guidelines and Procedures. Washington D.C.: U.s. Department of Justice, National
Institute of Justice, October 1987.
National District Attorneys Association. National Prosecution Standards, 2nd Edition.
Virginia: NDAA, 1991.
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Automating Major Operations - What a Prosecutor Needs to Know. Washington D.C.:
U.S. Department of Justice, December 1993.
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community". Canberra.
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<http://www.nlada.org/Defender/DefendecPublications/DefenderYubs_Ind
igentDefense> .
New South Wales Public Defenders Annual Review 1996/97.New Zealand Legal
Services Board (1995): "In the Interests of Justice: An Evaluation of Criminal
Legal Aid in New Zealand".
Nicholson J, Senior Public Defender, New South Wales (1999): "What makes a good
public defender". Speech to New South Wales Public Defenders conference.
Nonfelony Enforcement Advisory Committee. Nonfelony Enforcement Advisory Committee
Final Report. St. Paul: State Court Administration, January 1997.
Oregon State, Metropolitan Public Defender Services, Inc.: "Indigent Defense Services
Contract Proposal". 1999.

INSTITUTE FOR LAw AND POLICY PLANNING (ILPP)

Appendix F January 2009. Page 3

ALLEGHENY COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER AsSESSMENT

Paterson A. "Financing legal services: a comparative perspective", in (eds) D.L.Carey
Miller and P Beaumont, "The Option of litigation in Europe", UK National
Committee of Comparative Law: 1992.
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St. Paul: Ramsey County, March 1992.
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Saari, David J. "Testing the Measure of Trial Court Performance Standards." The COllrt
Management & Administration Report 6 (April 1995): 1-16.
Scottish Office Central Research Unit (1997): "A Literature Review of Public Defender
or Staff Lawyer Schemes". Legal studies research findings no. 19.
Seattle - King County Defender Association Thirtieth Anniversary Report 1969-1999.
Shaw QC, Jeff, Attorney General New South Wales (1997): Doughty Street lecture.
Sherman, Rorie. "Virtual Venues." The National Law Review ]ournal10 (January 1994): 1.
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1987.
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Smith, Roger. "Legal aid contracting: lessons from North America". Legal Action
Group. 1998.
Spangenberg Group. "Indigent Defense and Technology: A Progress Report". U.S. Dept
of Justice. 1999.
Steinbring, Elizabeth. "District Court Pro Se Project Underway/' The Hellnepin Lawyer,
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Trial Court and Public Defense Funding, The Transition from COllnty to State Funding. St.
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millennium": various papers.

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Appendix F ]anuarl' 2009 • Page 4

 

 

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