Resource Allocation:

To determine the resources allocated to indigent defense and prosecution throughout Illinois counties the research team secured, verified, and analyzed 102 FY 23 county budgets for indigent defense and for the offices of the state’s attorney. The budgets for the offices of state’s attorney represent conservative estimates of governmental spending on prosecution, as they do not reflect spending on investigative resources and expert witnesses provided without budgetary impact such as law enforcement and state-run forensic science laboratories. To collect the budgets, the research team:

Defense Staffing:

To secure, verify and accurately report the number of allocated positions for defense attorneys, investigators, mental health professionals and support staff in every county the research team:

Defense Attorney Workload Standards:

In 1973, 10 years after Gideon v. Wainwright, the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals (NAC Standards) established first public defender caseload limit as:

Decades later, researchers have determined that the NAC Standards were “developed without an appropriate or accurate methodology” (American Bar Association 2021 p.7). The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense (ABA SCLAID), the RAND Corporation, and other state-based organizations have subsequently developed a rigorous method to determine appropriate workload standards for attorneys representing indigent clients. Thus far, 17 states have developed up-to-date attorney workload standards. Since Illinois has not conducted its own study, the research team relied on the ABA SCLAID’s initial attorney workload study method by:

Based on the survey and calculations, workload standards for Illinois’ defense attorneys in Illinois are as follows:

On September 12, 2023, fifty years after the NAC released the initial caseload standards, the RAND Corporation and ABA released its report, National Public Defender Workload Study. The RAND Study includes both a meta-analysis of the state-based studies as well as its new national study and sets forth the following updated standards:

Case TypeNAC Standards (maximum cases per year)State-Level Study Medians (illustrative maximum cases per year)NPDWS Results (illustrative maximum cases per year)
Felony—High—LWOP150 (all felonies)87
Misdemeanor–High400 (all misdemeanors)10093
Probation and Parole ViolationsN/A346154
See, Rand Corporation, National Public Defender Workload Study, 2023, at 114.

Since Illinois does not disaggregate its case data beyond felonies and misdemeanors, the RAND Study’s workload standards cannot be applied in Illinois.

Criminal and Juvenile Cases Filed:

The research team utilized the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts’ Circuit Court Statistical Reports to calculate the number of felonies, misdemeanors, major traffic, DUI, delinquency and abuse and neglect cases filed in each county for 2022. Since Cook County’s 2022 fourth quarter data was not available at the time of our study, the research team used Cook County’s 2021 fourth quarter data to calculate the total number of cases filed in one year. Since Cook County’s 2022 fourth quarter data was not available at the time of our study, the research team used Cook County’s 2021 data to calculate the total number of cases.

Staffing Calculations: