The Distribution of Multiple-Defendant (Conflict) Cases Between the Legal Aid Society and the 18-B Panel at Arraignment


This chapter examines how co-defendants came to be represented by Legal Aid Society or 18-B Panel attorneys at Criminal Court arraignment. To determine whether the Panel was assigned to the more serious multiple-defendant cases, we examined the procedures by which co-defendants were allocated between the Society and the Panel. Thereafter we analyzed our observation sample of multiple-defendant cases in terms of each defendant’s relative factual culpability, prior criminal record and bail status. ¬†Our observations revealed that the distribution process was not random. The Society chose the co-defendant it would represent and, in effect, referred the other,¬†usually more seriously charged co-defendant(s) to Panel attorneys.

This power over case assignments had two important consequences. First, the proportionate share of Supreme Court cases handled by the 18-BPanel increased substantially. Second, the Panel was left with proportionately more demanding lawyering tasks, including cases carrying a greater likelihood of trial.

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