Maryland Access to Justice Commission Civil Right to Counsel Implementation Analysis includes Mixed Model and Cost Estimate

Good for the Maryland Access to Justice Commission!

Their very interesting and innovative Implementing a Civil Right to Counsel in Maryland has several important features worthy of emulation.

First, it proposes a “mixed model,” which means that services would be provided by both staffed organizations and private attorneys on a fee basis.  I have long felt that such an approach is potentially more cost effective, and certainly more politically marketable.  “The Commission envisions a mixed delivery model through
which the administering entity would provide grants to a range of
providers selected through a competitive grant application process.” A comment makes clear that this would build on an supplement the existing system, not replace it.

Second, they have made an estimate of how much it would cost.  To reach their conclusion of $106 million a year, they first estimate the number of currently self-represented litigants who would be eligible, in the following chart.

Then they estimate the average number of hours as follows:  “For the purpose of this estimate we will use 4 hours per case.  This rough estimate attempts to arrive at a weighted average including large volumes of relatively simpler cases (e.g., most evictions) mixed with smaller volumes of relatively more complex and time-
consuming matters (e.g., custody cases contested through trial).”

Then they use the $80/hr rate their Judicare pilot offers resulting in a $320 cost per case.  They assume an initial $25 registration fee, as used in that program, waiving it for the lowest income, resulting in income of $3.6 million.

The end result is a total cost of $106 million in additional costs.  This is slightly larger than the current state public defender budget.

There is lots more detail here, but I strongly urge all to read it.  It is only ten substantive pages.


About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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