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Philly Defense Lawyers Regularly Failed to Appear in Court, Study Says

A recent study of criminal cases in Philadelphia over ten years found that privately retained or court-appointed private lawyers failed to appear in court at least once in 36 percent of their cases, Debra Cassens Weiss reports for the ABA Journal. The numbers are worse for victims and other witnesses. Victims failed to appear at least once in 47 percent of victim-involved cases, while other civilian witnesses failed to appear in 46 percent of cases. In domestic violence cases, the failure-to-appear rate was 70 percent. Failure to appear by police officers or civilian witnesses may have led to dropped charges in 32,000 cases in Philadelphia during the decade, according to the authors’ calculations. The authors of the study heard that some private defense lawyers “fail to appear strategically,” suggesting that a failure to appear can lead to a continuance or could spur payment of legal bills.

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