Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska


Date of this Version



Objective Advantage, LLC, 2012, 56 p.


Copyright 2012, Objective Advantage, LLC. Used by permission.


Lancaster County understands how fundamentally important quality legal services are to the administration of justice, and is committed to providing the quality legal services mandated by our constitution and statutes. The County would also like to provide these services in the most cost effective way. In 2011, the Lancaster County Indigent Defense Advisory Committee was charged with undertaking an assessment of the cost of legal services in Lancaster County.

Recognizing that there are a variety of factors that influence the costs of indigent defense, the Advisory Committee’s took a five-part approach to the assessment:

 Identify strategies to improve the court appointment process and the quality of representation.

 Identify strategies to reduce the number of court appointments.

 Identify strategies to expand financial support for indigent defense from other sources.

 Identify cost effective alternate service delivery models.

 Identify and reduce unnecessary inefficiencies in case processing/case management practices.

To identify both the factors that contribute to the rising costs of indigent defense and ways in which the justice system can control costs, focus group discussions were conducted with a variety of justice system stakeholders including: those currently (and formerly) receiving court appointments in Lancaster County; public defenders; city prosecutors; county attorneys; Juvenile Court Judges; County Court Judges; and District Court Judges. The Advisory Committee then reviewed the factors and strategies identified through focus group discussions. When applicable and available, the Advisory Committee compiled and reviewed relevant data and national research regarding proposed cost reduction strategies.

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