Programs We Administer

Appellate Program

Our office contracts with attorneys to represent indigent appellants in cases where federal and state constitutions and state statutes guarantee the right to counsel on appeal. These include criminal cases as well as other cases involving basic rights such as dependency proceedings, parental rights terminations, criminal contempt convictions, and involuntary civil commitments.

Blake Program

While our office cannot provide direct representation, our Blake Program provides resources to help state and local agencies respond to the 2021 State v. Blake decision, which allows you to ask a court to invalidate your old drug possession conviction (a Blake case). The resources we offer include funding for local public defenders to help people with their Blake cases, data-gathering to assist state and local agencies, case-level analysis, and information for the public about how start a Blake case.

Disproportionality Advocacy

Our office is dedicated to excellence in public law and indigent defense.

The duties of the Disproportionality Advocacy Program focus on collaboratively developing high impact training utilizing legal principles, incorporating data resources, and data visualizations to advocate for system-involved individuals.

The Disproportionality Advocacy Program also provides expert consultation to attorneys seeking technical assistance on specific issues relating to institutional, systemic, and structural racism in the legal systems.

Extraordinary Criminal Justice Costs Act

The Extraordinary Criminal Justice Costs Act, RCW 43.330.190 establishes a procedure for counties to request reimbursement for costs incurred in aggravated murder cases. Our office processes the petitions in consultation with the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, and submits a prioritized list of petitions that are recommended for funding to the Legislature.

Parents Representation Program

Our office contracts with attorneys to represent indigent parents, custodians and legal guardians involved in child dependency and termination of parental rights proceedings.

Effective July 1, 2018, the program operates in all 39 Washington counties.

Key elements of the Parents Representation Program include: caseload limits and professional attorney standards; access to expert services and independent social services specialists; oversight by office’s management team; and ongoing training and support.

Public Defense Improvement Program

The Public Defense Improvement Program has three main roles. First, the program provides supplemental funding of county and city public defense services under RCW 10.101. Our program also offers regional training opportunities and the annual Criminal Defense Training Academy to enhance defense attorney trial skills. Finally, the program provides critical resource support to public defenders and public defense administrators to ensure these individuals have the necessary tools and information required to provide competent public defense services.

RCW 10.77 Post Commitment NGRI

Our office’s Forensic Post-Commitment Program currently provides state funded attorney representation to indigent system-involved individuals with a right to counsel at State expense after being committed pursuant to a finding of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity, under Chapter 10.77 RCW, continuing until those individuals are unconditionally released from court jurisdiction. In accordance with statutes, court rules and court orders, our office also administers payments for investigators, expert witnesses and other professional services necessary to support an adequate defense.

RCW 71.09 Civil Commitment

As required by state statute, our office contracts with attorneys statewide to represent indigent system-involved individuals who have a right to legal counsel in civil commitment proceedings under Chapter 71.09 RCW (sexually violent predator). In accordance with statutes, court rules and court orders, we also administer payments for investigators, expert witnesses and other professional services necessary to support an adequate defense.

Simple Possession Advocacy and Representation Program (SPAR)

Our SPAR Program supports public defense work in courts of limited jurisdiction related to the drug possession offenses created by the 2023 Washington State Legislature in Second Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5536. SPAR administers and disburses funds to cities and counties for public defense representation and consultation on these charges. The SPAR program also offers training for public defenders. 

Youth Access to Counsel

The Youth Access to Counsel Program provides statewide, on-demand legal consultation services to youth who are asked by law enforcement to waive certain constitutional rights. RCW 13.40.740. We also provide training and technical assistance to assist defenders statewide in providing effective advocacy for the youth they represent.