Yglesias String, cont.
July 16th, 2013

Matt Yglesias weighs in on the efficacy of public defenders without ever having read . . . oh, you know where this is going:

Matthew Yglesias speculates about what would have happened if George Zimmerman had been represented by a public defender. As somebody who knows quite a few public defenders (and — full disclosure — is married to one), I was surprised to see Yglesias describe most public defenders as having “little emotional … investment in winning the case.” It’s been my general observation that many public defenders are extremely passionate, whether about helping their clients, defeating overreaching prosecutors, or both. It’s not a bearable job if you don’t have an emotional investment in it.

That assertion aside, Yglesias’s broader point is to worry that those who are represented by public defenders may have worse outcomes than those with represented counsel because public defenders lack adequate incentives and resources. But some of the research on this is actually quite interesting. Morris Hoffman, Paul Rubin, and Joanna Shepherd wrote a paper arguing that while public defenders’ clients do tend to fare worse than those with private counsel, that may be caused by a selection effect . . .

Knowing stuff is for suckers.

Bonus: He thinks British Imperials never wore shorts.

Update: I’d say that the category is now closed because of this impressive compendium. But I’m sure there will be more.


  1. Jeffrey S. July 16, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Double Bonus:

    “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s how the smart money bets.”


    [comments are extra awesome!]

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  3. troy garrett July 16, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Also do you how hard it is to be a public defender in most states? In CA they have about 400 applications per open spot. In San Francisco it pays 90,000 a year to start that is double what most entry level privet sector attorneys make.

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  5. Galley Friend L.B. July 17, 2013 at 9:53 am

    What a great country America is. “Only in America!” as Don King would bellow, can someone with little historical literacy or appetite for basic research graduate from Harvard, and then — with no degree or background in economics or finance, or any experience running a business — become an “economics blogger” for Slate, and make enough bank to drop $1.3 million on a condo in D.C.:

    God bless America!

    But seriously, JVL – maybe it’s not worth the effort, but isn’t it time you collected all these Juicebox Mafia nuggets into a bigger piece?