Prosecution and Defense

Judge and Att -- iStock_000016560586SmallBoth prosecutors and defense counsel have critical roles to play in the justice system to ensure that the process is fair and equitable, that due process is afforded, and victims’ and defendants’ rights are protected.  JMI’s work in the area of prosecution and defense, focuses on helping to increase organizational efficiency and effectiveness, working collaboratively with the prosecutors and defense counsel to identify new and innovative approaches to meeting their respective goals and duties in the system, and ensuring that both have access to data for decision making as well as state-of-the-art research to inform decision-making.

Emerging Topics and Trends

Prosecutorial Diversion. For years, many prosecutors have used deferred prosecution programs as a means for holding low-level offenders accountable for their actions.  As prosecutors learn more about how to use risk and needs assessments as part of their decision making, many are exploring or adopting true diversion programs—diverting the lowest risk offenders pre-charge by having the offenders participate in a short program, perform a small community service, and pay a small fee (depending on financial circumstances of the individual).

Collateral Legal Consequences. Defense counsel’s responsibilities have grown to include addressing collateral legal consequences to criminal justice involvement, connecting defendants with social services, increasing the scope of representation to cover defendants’ needs throughout the process from intake through sentencing, probation violations and revocations, and beyond.  Like prosecutors, defense counsel also struggle with changing expectations and measures of success, so performance evaluation has become an increasingly critical topic for development.

Project Highlights


In 2014, The Justice Management Institute released “A Study of the Expansion of CPCS Representation of the Indigent,” documenting and assessing the legislatively-mandated expansion of the Committee for Public Counsel Services’ (CPCS) representation of indigent clients by public counsel. The report, commissioned by the Ways and Means Committees of both the Massachusetts House and Senate, examines the impact of 2011 state legislation mandating a 150 percent expansion of public counsel services.  JMI was invited shortly thereafter to document the expansion process relative to CPCS’ ambitious plan to reach this higher target within one year and to study its outcomes.

The study is significant for the national criminal justice and public defender communities, because, across the country, discussions about indigent defense have hinged on absolute cost per case, rather than cost effectiveness or quality of representation.  Some jurisdictions with mixed systems believe that contract attorneys who bill counties or states directly are much too expensive and that public defender offices are cheaper, yet the data do not support this hypothesis.  Read more . . . 

Comal County Client Choice Program

The Client Choice Program is a pilot project in Comal County, Texas in which indigent defendants may select an attorney rather than be appointed an attorney through the county’s existing rotational assignment process.  JMI’s role is to work with Comal County stakeholders, the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, and indigent defense scholars to provide an initial assessment of the current indigent defense system and then evaluate the impact of the Client Choice Program which will include a report on the outcome and impact of the implementation of the Client Choice Project. The Client Choice Program and been featured in the  New York Times and is an interesting test to provide better application of the Sixth Amendment’s Right to Counsel. JMI’s evaluation of the program is set to be completed in September 2015.

Florida Public Defender Association Case Weighting Study

JMI is conducting a state-wide weighted caseload study of public defender offices in the state of Florida.  Using a disposition-based approach, JMI will determine the level of effort required to bring different types of cases to disposition, taking into account the array of dispositions, and will answer key questions about the effectiveness and efficiencies of public defenders. It is anticipated that a final report will be published in January 2015 with the outcome of this work.

The Arizona Forensic Science Training Academy

Through grant funds from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, JMI developed a curriculum and hosted a webcast, as a joint effort by the Maricopa County Medical Examiner, criminalists from the Phoenix Police Department Crime Lab and the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys Advisory Council and the Arizona Public Defenders Association, under the auspices of the Arizona Forensic Science Advisory Committee. The webcast highlighted the training program for prosecutors and defense attorneys which contains various aspects of forensic science, including crime scene investigation, toxicology, DNA, latent print analysis, firearms, ballistics, pathology, trace evidence and digital forensics.  As part of the project JMI also published in article with practical advice for those interested in providing comprehensive forensic science training to prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers. To read the article click here.  To watch the webcast, click here.

Office Efficiency Study of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office

In March 2013, JMI completed an efficiency study of the Cuyahoga County, Ohio County Prosecutor’s Office (CCPO). The study was commissioned in October 2012 to coincide with a November election for the County’s first new prosecutor since 1999. JMI examined the strengths and weaknesses of current CCPO operations/case processing activities and also considered systemic issues that impact CCPO’s ability to operate with maximum efficiency and effectiveness. The study addressed all divisions of the CCPO: Adult Criminal, Appeals, Criminal Investigations, Civil, Juvenile Justice, Child Support Enforcement and Children and Family Services. Read more . . .


JMI’s President, Elaine Borakove, has developed the following prosecutor caseload and workload resources:

Franklin CruzProsecution and Defense