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American Bar Association Standards for Criminal Justice are available, with commentary, on the internet. The standards were first created, beginning in 1964, and implemented as part of the ABA’s Criminal Justice Standards Project .

“When the final volume of the first edition of the Standards was published in 1974, Warren Burger, chair of the Standards project until his appointment as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1969, described the Standards project as ‘the single most comprehensive and probably the most monumental undertaking in the field of criminal justice ever attempted by the American legal profession in our national history’ and recommended that ‘[e]veryone connected with criminal justice. . . become totally familiar with [the Standard’s] substantive content.’ ”

The exhaustive process for developing the standards by committees composed of prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and academics is described in “The Making of the ABA Criminal Justice Standards” by Martin Marcus. The standards are continually being updated, revised and expanded. They are used as a source of authority by judges at all levels of federal and state courts, as well as defense attorneys, prosecutors and commentators writing about the judicial system. There are individual standards for a wide variety of issues, including DNA Evidence, Electronic Surveillance of Private Communication, Post-Conviction Remedies, Providing Defense Services, Speedy Trial and Juvenile Justice Standards.

In addition to online access to the Standards, they are available in print at your local Massachusetts Trial Court Law Library.

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