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The Public Defender Model Bexar County Task Force Meeting March 9, 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "The Public Defender Model Bexar County Task Force Meeting March 9, 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Public Defender Model Bexar County Task Force Meeting March 9, 2011

2 What Is the Public Defender Model? Involves a public or private non-profit organization with full or part-time salaried staff attorneys and personnel. Involves a public or private non-profit organization with full or part-time salaried staff attorneys and personnel. The model may provide services to all indigent clients or target a special population. The model may provide services to all indigent clients or target a special population.

3 History of the Public Defender Model in Texas Prior to the FDA, only five Texas counties operated public defender offices serving adult defendants. These included Colorado, Dallas, El Paso, Webb, and Wichita counties. Prior to the FDA, only five Texas counties operated public defender offices serving adult defendants. These included Colorado, Dallas, El Paso, Webb, and Wichita counties. Now there are 18 PDs in Texas serving in at least some types of cases in roughly 110 of Texass 254 counties. Now there are 18 PDs in Texas serving in at least some types of cases in roughly 110 of Texass 254 counties.

4 Public Defenders in Texas

5 Advantages of the Public Defender Model Generally, PDs can provide comparable quality legal services at less cost than any other indigent defense delivery method. Generally, PDs can provide comparable quality legal services at less cost than any other indigent defense delivery method. Public defender budgeting is simpler and more predictable than budgeting for payment of private attorneys whose work practices, billing practices, and caseloads fluctuate every month of every year. Public defender budgeting is simpler and more predictable than budgeting for payment of private attorneys whose work practices, billing practices, and caseloads fluctuate every month of every year.

6 Advantages of the Public Defender Model The group practice of law allows attorneys to learn from one another, match staff experience to work demands, develop and preserve institutional methods of performing work. The group practice of law allows attorneys to learn from one another, match staff experience to work demands, develop and preserve institutional methods of performing work. Public Defenders can attract additional resources to minimize costs including grants, fellowships and law-student assistance. Public Defenders can attract additional resources to minimize costs including grants, fellowships and law-student assistance.

7 Advantages of the Public Defender Model Some non-profit public defenders can also offer indigent defendants civil legal services, particularly on mental health issues, that can minimize the costs of involvement in the criminal justice system. Some non-profit public defenders can also offer indigent defendants civil legal services, particularly on mental health issues, that can minimize the costs of involvement in the criminal justice system. Judges and county administrators find that less administrative work is necessary to oversee indigent defense with the public defender model (i.e., no attorney fee vouchers to review, approve, and pay). Judges and county administrators find that less administrative work is necessary to oversee indigent defense with the public defender model (i.e., no attorney fee vouchers to review, approve, and pay).

8 Advantages of the Public Defender Model Public defenders serve a resource for public officials and the defense bar (i.e., CLE training). Public defenders serve a resource for public officials and the defense bar (i.e., CLE training).

9 Disadvantages of the Public Defender Model Hiring staff, securing office space and equipment, establishing internal office practices and procedures, and modifying existing procedures may require significant start up costs. Hiring staff, securing office space and equipment, establishing internal office practices and procedures, and modifying existing procedures may require significant start up costs.

10 The Feasibility of a Public Defender Model Public defender offices offer important quality controls that assigned counsel and contract programs do not have, including office policies, in-house training, and supervision. Public defender offices offer important quality controls that assigned counsel and contract programs do not have, including office policies, in-house training, and supervision. PD offices allow counties to maintain better and more accurate metrics of indigent defense. PD offices allow counties to maintain better and more accurate metrics of indigent defense.

11 The Feasibility of a Public Defender Model An adequately funded public defender system should result in the same or better quality representation, better dependability, and less cost for the same scope of indigent defense representation. An adequately funded public defender system should result in the same or better quality representation, better dependability, and less cost for the same scope of indigent defense representation. This improvement results from the institutional nature of public defender offices, not because public defenders are better attorneys than private assigned counsel. This improvement results from the institutional nature of public defender offices, not because public defenders are better attorneys than private assigned counsel.

12 The Feasibility of a Public Defender Model Cost per case for public defenders is almost always lower than costs for assigned counsel in the same county. Cost per case for public defenders is almost always lower than costs for assigned counsel in the same county. Cost savings from PDs are also found in decreased pretrial incarceration costs from aggressive bond reduction practice and earlier disposition of cases. Cost savings from PDs are also found in decreased pretrial incarceration costs from aggressive bond reduction practice and earlier disposition of cases.

13 State-Wide Cost Comparison FY 2010

14 Potential Grant Funding Discretionary grants from TFID could support PD formation by county Discretionary grants from TFID could support PD formation by county Grants are 4 years with State- County match over time period Grants are 4 years with State- County match over time period FY2013 is next available grant period (FY2012 Intent to Submit Applications were due February 25 th ) FY2013 is next available grant period (FY2012 Intent to Submit Applications were due February 25 th )

15 Resources Blueprint for Creating a Public Defender Office Blueprint for Creating a Public Defender Office Task Force on Indigent Defense Annual Report Task Force on Indigent Defense Annual Report


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