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This Article examines the impact of the trial court upon the quality of legal assistance provided the indigent criminal defendant. The court, when confronted with public defenders so overburdened with cases that they have not had the time to adequately prepare, all too often exacerbates the situation by refusing to permit counsel additional time for investigation and preparation. The trial judge may be affected by administrative pressures to dispose of cases, move the calendar, and get pleas. The defender's overload is therefore compounded by the court's overload, and the situation results in the sacrifice of the indigent defendant's right to competent representation. As both counsel and court attempt to minimize the amount of time expended on each case, the defendant's claim to a just proceeding and fair trial is forfeited. This article proposes judicial monitoring of the level of attorney preparation through a pretrial conference or a defense counsel pretrial worksheet as a means of improving the quality of assistance offered the indigent defendant.

Source Publication

29 B.C.L. Rev. 531

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Criminal Law Commons