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An attorney appointed by a court or employed by the government to represent indigent defendants in criminal actions.
n. an elected or appointed public official (usually of a county), who is an attorney regularly assigned by the courts to defend people accused of crimes who cannot afford a private attorney. In larger counties the public defender has a large case load, numerous deputy public defenders and office staff. In each Federal Judicial District there is also a federal public defender, and some states have a state public defender to supervise the provision of attorneys to convicted indigents for appeals.