Client Choice Pilot Project

Client Choice Pilot Project

Client Choice Starts in Monona, Plymouth and Woodbury Counties on March 1, 2019

The Office of the State Public Defender and the Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning (CJJP) have partnered to conduct an innovative pilot project to study the impact of client choice in indigent defense.  The project is funded by a federal Bureau of Justic Statistics program and facilitated by CJJP, Iowa's Statistical Analysis Center.  Funding for the project began in October of 2016 and will continue through September of 2019. 

In 2016, Governor Branstad signed Justice System Appropriation (HR 2457, Ch. 1137, Sec. 21), permitting the State Public Defender to establish this pilot project, notwithstanding any other provision of the law to the contrary. This "Client Choice" pilot project will allow an indigent defendant to choose his or her own attorney from a list of attorneys eligible to handle that type of criminal case.  The pilot project is for Monona, Plymouth, and Woodbury Counties only. 

The project seeks to determine whether allowing indigent defendants to select their attorney, as opposed to random assignment, will affect client satisfaction, case outcomes, and/or costs. 
Most aspects of attorney representation of indigent clients will remain the same. The billing process and procedures by which attorneys submit claims to the Office of the State Public Defendant for payment will remain the same.  Attorneys will be notified by court order of your court appointment, as they currently are. 
There will be an Attorney Book that the defendant will be provided an opportunity to review. It will have an Attorney Information Page for each attorney who is eligible to be appointed to accept the particular level of criminal offense for which the defendant is charged.  Eligible attorneys shall provide the information to complete the Attorney Information Page. The information that will be used to compile the Attorney Information Page will be taken from the "Client Choice Attorney Information Form", which can be found below. 
Please complete the information requested on the "Client Choice Attorney Information Form" and email the completed form to or or mail to the Iowa Dept. of Human Rights-CJJP, 321 E. 12th Street, 2nd Floor, Lucas Building, Des Moines IA 50319 by Noon on February 15, 2019 in order for your information to be included in the first Attorney Book.  If an attorney does not meet this deadline, they will still have a page in the Attorney Book if you have a contract with the Office of the State Public Defender to handle that type of criminal case, but the Attorney Page will just list your name without the other biographical information requested in the Attorney Information form.
As an attorney, if you get overloaded with cases, it is very important for you to email the judges, magistrates, and court personnel in the counties who handle the court appointments in the counties where you temporarily want to stop taking cases. It is important to contact them directly as opposed to the Office of State Public Defender.  If you contact the Office of the State Public Defender, there will be a one-month delay for getting off and on the list.
There is a 10-year cutoff period for reporting attorney discipline. Any discipline more than 10 years old will not be reported. If any of you have already submitted your form, and have shown attorney discipline which is more than 10 years old, Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning will delete it when the information is transferred from your Attorney Information Form to your Attorney Page in the Attorney Book.  If any of you hit the 10-year mark during the pilot period, the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning staff have told us that they will delete it when it hits the 10-year mark. 
The following documents and forms outline the client choice pilot project. These forms require Adobe Acrobat version 3.0 or higher. Click on this link for a free download of Adobe software.


Client Choice Pilot Project Overview

Client Choice Project Phase 1 - Complete

Client Choice Project Workflow

Client Choice Project Guidelines

Client Choice Attorney Information Form

Client Choice Attorney Selection Form