Multi-Partner Project Design

Misdemeanor Early Representation/Smart Defense Initiative


Office of the Public Defender

Amounts and Funding Sources (first two years)

$377,000 Federal Bureau of Justice Assistance grant; $200,000 private foundations, leveraged county resources


Reduce judicial “Failures to Appear,” reduce collateral incarceration, improve procedural justice, and increase judicial efficiency and fairness.

Through this innovative partnership of the Public Defender’s Office, two police agencies, and a community-based multi-service reentry center, Early Rep ensures that people cite-released on misdemeanor violations have ready access to free and effective counsel provided at a familiar, readily-available community resource center.

Providing pre-arraignment legal advice and representation, project staff reach out to clients who have been cite-released, track and help clients navigate the judicial process, advocate with the District Attorney’s office for pre-filing disposition options, and conduct investigation and other case preparation. And as one of the most effective (and research-driven) innovations, the project uses an automated and integrated text-messaging system to communicate with clients.

Since its launch, the project has generated marked reductions in failures to appear, improved judicial efficiencies, and garnered national recognition for its value at every intercept along the judicial process.

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