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Published on Friday, October 17, 2014

Workgroup on the Cost of Providing Misdemeanor Public Defense

The House Judiciary Committee asked the Office of Public Defense (OPD) to convene a work group to look at the cost of providing misdemeanor public defense. The request was in response to cities’ efforts to seek additional funding for public defense costs related to the new caseload limits that take effect in January 2015.

The workgroup has been focused on gathering data on the actual costs to jurisdictions from providing public defense services, and the expected costs after the caseload limits take effect. The workgroup is also tasked with looking at alternatives that will reduce the need for public defense such as pre-trial diversion programs.

The workgroup will be producing a report soon that AWC will share with our membership. Thank you to all of the cities who responded to the survey, and for sharing your information on public defense. The information will be very helpful in our efforts to seek additional funding. AWC would also like to recognize and thank Kent Assistant City Attorney Pat Fitzpatrick for serving on, and co-chairing, the workgroup. We also appreciate the participation of Kent Chief Prosecuting Attorney Tami Perdue, Renton Senior Assistant City Attorney Garom Newsom, and former Lakewood Assistant City Attorney Anita Booker-Hay.

OPD has also been working with the Washington Defenders Association (WDA) to develop a membership program that will allow cities to join WDA, and then offer the cities’ public defenders (contract or in-house) access to their services. WDA provides free training and technical assistance to public defenders. For more information contact WDA or OPD.

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