Taiwan's legal reform in 2003 provides an excellent natural experiment-like setting for empirical investigation. Using trial data from 2004 to 2007, we test whether there has been a systematic difference in trial outcomes between criminal defendants with different types of defense counsel, and examine relevant policy implications. Our study finds that while public defenders and government-contracted legal aid attorneys are about equally effective, they tend to adopt different litigation strategies which will in turn affect their clients' fates. Specifically, the defendants represented by public defenders tend to have higher conviction rates, but shorter sentences if they are convicted. These differences can be explained in term of the inherent differences in the institutional characters for the two types of counsel and the pecuniary incentives they face.
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