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Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017
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NY Times Opinion Piece on Gideon's Army

Gideon's Promise is the new paradigm for the Public Defender Profession. The old recruiting meme "it's not just a job, it's an adventure" would seem to apply.  CLICK HERE

 

How Public Defenders are Organized in Louisiana

History

Established after adoption of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974, the Public Defender Office was formerly known as the "Indigent Defender" office because the law referred to providing counsel for "indigents", considered very poor and unable to pay legal fees.  Today many people who are employed are found to be unable to afford a lawyer, and the law has changed the name of the program to "Public Defender", recognizing that people who cannot hire a private attorney have a right to counsel provided by the public.  More than 95% of the people in criminal court are represented by the public defender in the present Criminal Justice system.

Starting in 2004, public defenders began to push for change that would allow these offices across the state to serve clients just like any other law firm.  Then, the public defenders, through a La Public Defenders Association, urged adoption of trial performance standards by the state defender board.  This process evolved and finally in 2007 Louisiana passed the Public Defender Act by nearly unanimous vote of the legislature.  Act 307 of 2007 is the foundation for our organization, for regulations and professionalism, including Trial Performance Standards, which amount to regulations with the force of law (although not relied on for any claims of ineffective counsel).

The public defenders are an important independent component of the criminal justice system.  There is a job to do for them, just as the Judges, District Attorneys, Clerks, Court Reporters and others have an important function in Criminal Justice, Public Defenders make the system work.  In a way, we like to consider our role as part of law enforcement, because we make certain the law is followed when the court deals with our clients.

Organization

Locally, the state court is established district by district, with 42 judicial districts in Louisiana. Some of these have more than one Parish, and the 15th Judicial District is one of those, with the three parishes of Acadia, Lafayette and Vermilion included in the district. There is an office in each parish, usually near the parish courthouse. Details about our office.

STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BOARD

In 2007 the Louisiana Legislature created the Louisiana Public Defender Board, an agency to supervise and assist the local public defenders.  The state board named a Chief Public Defender for Louisiana, whose office in Baton Rouge has staffers and assistants working in trial compliance, death penalty defense, juvenile justice and training.  The state agency can create performance standards and regulations to assure that clients of the public defender are properly represented in each district.  (For More information on the LPDB you can consult their website at lpdb.la.gov

The state office cannot represent a client and cannot accept a complaint about a specific attorney.  Its role is to provide a regulatory and supervisory framework for the public defenders.  It cannot appoint a particular person or remove a lawyer from a particular case.

HOW IS THE 15th Judicial District PUBLIC DEFENDER ORGANIZED?

WHAT TYPE OF CASES DOES THE PUBLIC DEFENDER HANDLE?     

HOW DOES A PERSON APPLY FOR A PUBLIC DEFENDER?  

FILING A COMPLAINT ABOUT YOUR PUBLIC DEFENDER.

TRUANCY - MISSING SCHOOL AND THE CRIMINAL CONSEQUENCES.


Public Defender main office physical locations: 15TH Judicial District

  • Lafayette Parish - 600 Jefferson Street. Suite 902 Lafayette, LA 70501 "Chase Bank Towers"   Tel  337 232 9345
  • Vermilion Parish - 204 Charity Street,  Abbeville, LA 70510   Tel 337 898 2090                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
  • Acadia Parish - 516 SE  Court Circle, Crowley, LA 70526  337 788 3635

IF YOU ARE ASSIGNED A CONTRACT COUNSEL, REFER TO YOUR PAPERWORK FOR THAT LAWYER'S OFFICE

LOCATION AND ADDRESS.  THE INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS WHO TAKE CASES FOR THE PD OFFICE MAKE

THE WORK ON YOUR CASE PART OF THEIR BROADER PRACTICE OF CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAW IN ACADIANA.

 

Mission Statement

The Public Defender Program of the 15th Judicial District is a client centered public legal services program, created as a governmental subdivision devoted to the vindication of the Right to Counsel.  The office will center upon what is best for the client, including the implementation of best practices of reform, supervision, and expanded vision of the Public Defender Profession, with a firm commitment to fiscal responsibility and respect for victims as well as other professionals in the Criminal Justice System.