120-1-07 Workload standards.

(A) Workloads. Neither the public defender office, public defender attorney nor any court-appointed counsel representing indigent clients may accept a workload which, by reason of its excessive size and/or complexity, threatens to deny due process of law or constitutional rights to any client, places the office or attorney in imminent danger of violating the "Rules of Professional Conduct", or threatens quality representation of the client.

(1) A case is defined as a single charge or set of charges arising from one incident and concerning a defendant (or other client) in one court in the same proceeding.

(2) Factors to be considered in determining when workload threatens to deny due process of law or constitutional rights to any client, places the office or attorney in imminent danger of violating the "Rules of Professional Conduct," or threatens quality representation of the client include:

(a) If the number of cases the attorney is handling exceeds the number prescribed by the Ohio public defender standards and guidelines for reimbursement, workloads must be reduced;

(b) Complexity of cases - If the attorney's workload comprises primarily high degree felony charges or difficult or novel legal issues, workloads should be reduced;

(c) The attorney's experience and ability - including the number of years that the attorney has practiced law; the proportion of time the attorney has dedicated to criminal defense; the types of cases, including degree charge and difficulty of cases, which the attorney has handled in the past; and the attorney's ability to satisfy or exceed performance standards established by the Ohio public defender commission. If the attorney's experience and ability are limited, workloads should be reduced;

(d) The attorney's nonrepresentational duties - including but not limited to the time devoted to clerical work; research and writing of briefs, memoranda, motions, and letters; and management or supervisory duties. As nonrepresentational duties increase, workloads should be reduced;

(e) Information technology - If the attorney lacks an individual computer readily at his/her disposal, desktop access to online research tools, or desktop access to online court dockets and case file information, workloads should be reduced;

(f) Availability of support services - If the attorney does not have support staff as listed in paragraph (B) of this rule, workloads should be reduced;

(g) Open file discovery - If there is not prompt access or no access to the witness statements and police reports, workloads should be reduced;

(h) Court scheduling and access to diversion - If a jurisdiction's case scheduling or other courthouse procedures reduce the efficient use of attorney time, or if the jurisdiction provides limited access to diversion programs, workloads should be reduced;

(i) Travel - If the provision of quality representation regularly requires significant travel, workloads should be reduced; and

(j) Other factors relevant to the attorney's workload.

(3) No attorney shall accept any appointment which exceeds or jeopardizes his or her ability to render effective and quality representation to each individual client, or if that representation will cause the attorney to violate the "Rules of Professional Conduct."

(4) Excessive workload. Whenever by reason of excessive workload the public defender or appointed attorney determines that the assumption of additional cases or continued representation in previously accepted cases by his or her office has resulted in or will lead to inadequate representation of any client, the attorney shall:

(a) Declare such fact to the court on the record; and

(b) Request that the court allow the attorney's withdrawal as counsel from assigned cases, or order that the attorney temporarily refrain from accepting new cases.

(B) Supporting staff. The ratio of support staff including legal secretary/administrative assistants, paralegals, investigators, mitigation specialists and social workers to attorneys shall be no less than the numbers prescribed by the Ohio public defender standards and guidelines for reimbursement. Alternatively the office must have adequate funds in the office budget to hire such support staff on an as needed basis in order to comply with the Ohio public defender standards and guidelines for reimbursement.

Replaces: 120-1-07

Effective: 10/09/2009
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 10/08/2014
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 120.03
Rule Amplifies: 120.03
Prior Effective Dates: 1/9/78, 1/1/00