The mission of the Washington State Office of Public Defense (OPD) is "to implement the constitutional and statutory guarantees of counsel and to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of indigent defense services funded by the state... ." RCW 2.70.005. Established by the Legislature in 1996, OPD is an independent agency of the judicial branch.
OPD administers indigent defense services in the following areas:
- Appellate Program
- Parents Representation Program
- Public Defense Improvement Program
- RCW 71.09 Civil Commitment
- Extraordinary Criminal Justice Costs
OPD cannot provide direct representation of clients, pursuant to RCW 2.70.020.
- The enabling statute for the Washington State Office of Public Defense (OPD) requires the agency to periodically report to the Legislature on the criteria and process for determining whether a person is indigent and eligible for a public defense attorney.
U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington
- The U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington has issued a decision in Joseph Jerome Wilbur, et al., v. City of Mount Vernon, et al. The Court held that the cities named in this action are liable under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for the systemic flaws that deprive indigent criminal defendants of their Sixth Amendment right to the assistance of counsel. Among other requirements, the cities are ordered to hire a Public Defense Supervisor to oversee, document and report progress on required improvements.
December 4, 2013 -Memorandum of Decision
Chapter 71.09 RCW Update
- In 2012 the Legislature transferred administration of state-funded indigent defense services under Chapter 71.09 RCW (sexually violent predator) to the Office of Public Defense (OPD). Among other requirements, the Legislature directed OPD to report annually on program operations. This is the first of the required annual reports covering operations for Fiscal Year 2013.
Fiscal Year 2013-Chapter 71.09 RCW- Annual Report
Washington Supreme Court
- Implementation of Felony and Juvenile Caseload Standards (October 1, 2013)
Beginning on October 1, 2013, all public defense attorneys assigned to represent indigent defendants on felony and juvenile offender cases will be required to certify their caseloads to the court(s) in which they work. From this day forward, felony case assignments should not exceed 150 per year, and juvenile offender case assignments should not exceed 250 per year. Public defense attorneys with mixed case-types, part-time work, and/or private work should have caseloads proportionate to the percentage of time devoted to public defense. Jurisdictions that employ a case weighting scheme must adhere to the requirements of Standard 3.5 and 3.6. For more details, please see this FAQ.
- Washington Supreme Court Order No. 25700-A-1035 (August 20, 2013)
The Supreme Court has recently updated the form for public defense attorney certification for CrR 3.1, JuCR 9.2, and CrRLJ 3.1. The updated form clarifies the attorney qualification requirements of Section 2(e), and modifies the caption to better reflect the administrative nature of the form. These changes do not alter the substantive requirements of the Standards. August 2013 Certification Form or August 2013 Certification Form.
- Washington Supreme Court Order No. 25700-A-1023 (May 23, 2013)
The Supreme Court has clarified the effective dates when public defense attorneys must incorporate additional standards in their quarterly Certifications of Compliance, including the various numeric caseload limits of Standard 3.4 (Felony and Juvenile cases October 1, 2013) and the specific attorney qualifications of Standard 14.2 sections B-K (October 1, 2013). The Court’s adopted Standards for Indigent Defense and Certification Form are now updated on the Court’s website to reflect these clarifying amendments.
- Washington Supreme Court Order No. 25700-A-1016 (April 8, 2013)
The Washington Supreme Court has delayed misdemeanor caseload certification until January 1, 2015, and has directed OPD to conduct an attorney time study and develop a model policy for case-weighting. OPD is seeking attorneys practicing in municipal and district courts to help share existing non-confidential time records to show the time you spend representing misdemeanor clients. For further details and to learn how you can be part of this process, please call 360-586-3164 at extensions 108 or 114.