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June 19, 2008

SSRL publishes findings on Indigent Defense in Northeast Louisiana

The Social Science Research Laboratory, located at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, completed its investigative project “Indigent Defense in Northeast Louisiana: A Study of the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Judicial Districts.”

The study, published in cooperation with the Chief Public Defenders of the Judicial Districts of the State of Louisiana, presents a snapshot of Public Defender operations in each of the four Judicial Districts. The report includes recommendations for delivering the most effective operating efficiencies within current resource constraints, and it frames the debate for increased support. Students in ULM’s Criminal Justice Department first conducted the study in December 2004; the SSRL’s recent study is a continuation of that report.

The Principal Investigator is Dr. Kevin A. Unter, ULM Assistant Professor of Political Science. Attorney Robert S. Noel, II, a contract public defender with the Fourth Judicial District, provided additional guidance. ULM students Jessica Decelle, Shawn Gorden, Sean Lenz, Loren McNeil, and Angela Williams assisted in the data collection, analysis, and publication of the report.

The report is revealing, and it will significantly impact the legal community, Unter said. “This study represents a partnership between the ULM Social Science Research Lab and a major segment of the Louisiana legal community that provides high-quality, professional, and most importantly, independent research that will aid decision makers both locally and state-wide in their pursuit of their organization’s stated objectives,” he said. “Additionally, this study demonstrated the capacity and utility of the SSRL to other local, regional and state-wide government agencies who can benefit from such partnerships.”

Noel praised the efforts of ULM faculty and staff. “The ULM SSRL program has provided a report that will be useful in the ongoing reform of Public Defense in Northeast Louisiana. The report underscores the need for more funding to raise the level of professionalism, so that cases may move rapidly through the justice system with the right results.”

For more information, call the SSRL at (318) 342-3135, or visit the Web site at

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