public defender

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Public Defender

An attorney appointed by a court or employed by the government to represent indigent defendants in criminal actions.


Right to Counsel.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

public defender

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.

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

public defender

a lawyer provided by the state to represent a person accused of a crime. Clearly, where there is respect for the human right of a fair trial, there has to be a separation of powers between the public defender and the prosecution - something that is difficult where there maybe a similar ‘civil service’ type of career structure and movement of individuals between divisions. They are well known in the USA and the system is the subject of an experiment in Scotland. It is now provided for in English legislation and the precise system is a matter of consultation. See CRIMINAL DEFENCE SERVICE.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
(2) But these two fundamental principles come into conflict when public defenders' excessive caseloads make competent representation impossible.
I seek to make sense of why the public defender apprenticeship impacts participants who joined others in a fight to free another human being, marginalized by issues of poverty and class.
The state attorney contests in the 14th and 17th circuits and the public defender races in the 15th and 19th circuits present a fairly rare occurrence in Florida politics.
(9) Plea bargaining is a natural extension of this, particularly when prosecutors and public defenders are overloaded.
Missouri Public Defender Michael Barrett declined to comment because the litigation is pending, but he did share an email he sent to his staff on May 15 reminding them that the proposal is not final and remains subject to approval by a judge.
Gannett has been a federal public defender in Baltimore for 20 years, where she represents clients on all criminal justice system levels from state misdemeanors to capital cases in local courts up to the Supreme Court.
Mehn also clarifies that there are no public defenders in magisterial courts except in circuit courts where this service is practiced.
In 60 percent of those, public defenders won either a complete acquittal, an acquittal on the top charge against the defendant, or a trial order of dismissal, according to the report.
Unlike private attorneys, public defenders can't turn away clients.
Under the draft legislation presented by the task force, a nine-member Public Defender Oversight Council would be created.
A recent political blow-up between some local elected officials and the public defender's office might also shed some light on why judges are giving more work to private lawyers than public defenders.