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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1839651
 
 

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Explaining the Outcome Gap between Different Types of Indigent Defense Counsel: Adverse Selection and Moral Hazard Effects


Michael Roach


Northwestern University

October 30, 2010


Abstract:     
County governments typically provide legal defense services for the indigent through one of two methods: public defenders and assigned counsel. I measure the differences in defendant outcomes between these two types of counsel and examine the extent to which adverse selection and moral hazard contribute to these differences. I find that, across a variety of outcome variables, assigned counsel generate significantly less favorable outcomes for defendants than do public defenders. Using variation in the fee structures through which assigned counsel are paid, I find evidence suggesting that moral hazard can affect the speed with which a case is resolved. I use variation in local attorney wages to measure the degree to which the decision to self-select onto an assigned counsel roster is sensitive to an attorney’s outside option. My results indicate that this selection effect is quite significant and robust to specification, strongly suggesting that adverse selection is of primary importance in explaining the outcome gap between public defenders and assigned counsel.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 62

Keywords: public defender, adverse selection, moral hazard

JEL Classification: K14, K40

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Date posted: May 14, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Roach, Michael, Explaining the Outcome Gap between Different Types of Indigent Defense Counsel: Adverse Selection and Moral Hazard Effects (October 30, 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1839651 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1839651

Contact Information

Michael Roach (Contact Author)
Northwestern University ( email )
2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
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