Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2023

Author's School

College of Arts & Sciences

Author's Program


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (A.B.)




The US public defense system is underfunded, understaffed, and underdelivering on the Constitutional promises of the 6th Amendment, the right to a fair and speedy trial. This state of our public defense system results in monstrous impacts for indigent defendants nationwide. Through indefinite delays in litigation, being abandoned in jail while sitting on waiting lists for public defenders, and being outright denied representation, indigent defendants are deprived of their rights. Beyond just defendant neglect, our current system puts immense strain on public defenders, prosecutors, and state budgets. In an attempt to combat this current state of affairs, this paper details a possible provision to assist our public defense system. This provision is the idea of a Juris Master's degree as an alternative to the Juris Doctor (JD) that is largely required to practice law. The Juris Master would allow its holder to handle misdemeanor criminal cases in lieu of a JD-holding attorney. This provision would be useful as the large majority of public defender dockets are indeed misdemeanor cases. The lift of this paper is both describing this proposal and explaining how it would harmonize with the ethical ideas backing the Constitution and the mandated standards of the legal profession. Proving this harmonization requires looking at documents such as the Magna Carta, regulations such as the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC), and analogical relationships in other professions.


Dr. Anne Baril