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The Effects of Defense Counsel on the Outcomes of Homicide
and Death Penalty Prosecutions

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $149,898)

This evaluation of the Philadelphia Defender Association (PDA) examines differences in race and quality of criminal defense, the effect of (trial, investigator, and expert fee cap) incentive changes on appointed counsel, and the effect of mandated experience and training since 2004 on homicide and death penalty case outcomes (plea/trial, sentence, time to disposition). A natural experiment results from the 1/5 random assignment of counsel at arraignment since 1993 from local appointed attorneys versus PDA, who receive specialized death penalty training and expert witness funds. Information sources include: Administrative Office of the PA Courts data on cases concluded 1/1990-present (n=1600 local, n=400 PDA); structured interviews with attorneys and other stakeholders using snowball sampling; and case review of 51 capital homicide cases found counsel constitutionally ineffective. Findings have applications for right to counsel, sentencing disparity, and indigent defense systems. CA/NCF

Date Created: September 10, 2009