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.
Work Group on the Costs of Providing Misdemeanor Public Defense
At the request of the House Judiciary Committee, OPD has convened an interim work group to examine the cost of misdemeanour public defense in Washington’s courts of limited jurisdiction. The interim work group’s report will be available by the end of 2014.
FAQ on Implementation of the Supreme Court Standards for Indigent Defense
Certification to Misdemeanor Caseloads
The Washington Supreme Court has delayed misdemeanor caseload certification until January 1, 2015. Washington Supreme Court Order No. 25700-A-1016 (April 8, 2013) OPD has developed a Model Misdemeanor Case Weighting Policy to assist local jurisdictions that choose to use case weighting for calulating caseloads.
U.S. District Court Rules on Public Defense Services
In the case of Wilbur v. City of Mount Vernon, et. al., the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington held that the named cities are liable under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for the systemic flaws that deprived indigent criminal defendants of their Sixth Amendment right to the assistance of Counsel. December 4, 2013 -Memorandum of Decision
2013 Status Report on Public Defense in Washington State
The eighth annual Status Report summarizes OPD’s continued progress in activities targeted to improve indigent defense services in the trial courts. 2013 Status Report on Public Defense in Washington State