Author Type

Graduate Student


The overwhelming majority of federal and state defendants are indigent, meaning counsel must be obtained on behalf of them. If public defenders were not made available for these types of defendants, the defendants could not afford representation on their own. Because limited options are available for indigent defendants, public defenders are often appointed to represent them. Due to the nature of public defenders, critics question public defender credibility and the quality of representation they offer. Studies have attempted to examine this very topic, and while the majority have found no differences between public defenders and private attorneys in terms of standard of counsel, one cannot say with certainty both types of attorneys are one in the same. The current review attempts to explore the question of standard of representation offered by public defenders compared to that of private attorneys, what factors may lead to differences in counsel, and how the research question can be further examined.