Data for Defenders
Data for Defenders is a
new database that collects briefs, motions, and
transcripts focused on social science research and data helpful to public
defenders. It includes information on topics like the science of eyewitness
memory; problems with racism and bias in the criminal legal system; and the use
of unreliable, seemingly scientific evidence.
The project is sponsored by the University of Michigan’s MDefenders program
along with a number of partners – including public defender offices and
organizations around the country – to ensure that the database remains relevant
and up to date. In addition to including completed briefs and motions submitted
by defenders, defense experts at Michigan Law will regularly draft language for
new briefs and motions, incorporating novel social science research to help
defenders advocate with and for their indigent clients.
The database is organized in a user-friendly way. For every
document in the database, there is a description that will pinpoint exactly
which pages have the relevant information. It’s also searchable by a number of
different categories—date, jurisdiction, topic, key terms. And because it has
succinct summaries, perusing the database by category can also generate ideas
for defenders about different kinds of issues they can raise that they might
not have thought of.
Instead of having defenders around the country waste precious time
reinventing the wheel, this database will collect and share sample motions and
briefs to help public defenders bring data, research, and statistics into the
courtroom. We encourage you to take a look at this new resource, use it when
helpful, and contribute materials to it. And if there are subjects that you’d
like to see covered that are not currently included, feel free to send your
ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.