Quality of Life—Justice
- Indicator: District Court public defender caseloads versus recommended standards
- Source: Maryland Office of the Public Defender Annual Reports
- Years included: 2009-2020
Access to competent legal representation is a right considered so vital to the service of justice that it is enshrined in the U.S. Bill of Rights. However, as highlighted in a Baltimore Sun article, this right can be infringed when public defenders are overwhelmed with cases, leading to cursory representation and a disproportional number of disadvantaged defendants pleading guilty to charges they might otherwise contest—a major blow to equity and the quality of life available to those thus underserved. In light of this, the Subcommittee chose to look at the disparity between public defender case load recommended standards and the actual number of cases these lawyers are tasked with taking on each year.
Data for 2020 reflects the disruption in normal court operations occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.