To defend the life and liberty of our clients and to protect their statutory and constitutional rights, by providing zealous, effective, and ethical representation.
Pursuant to Chapter 120, O.R.C., the County Commissioners established the Public Defender Commission on July 26, 1976. The five member Commission appoints the Public Defender and sets the general operational policy for the office. The Public Defender assesses indigency, subject to review of the Court, and the staff provides legal and administrative services that ensure effective representation in criminal and family law matters.
Staff attorneys represent misdemeanants in Municipal Court, criminally accused adults and juveniles in Juvenile Court, and non-support defendants in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts. Since 1995, three full time staff attorneys have been assigned to the Hamilton County Drug Court, the first such court in Ohio. Although the premise of the Drug Court is non-adversarial, the attorneys play a key role in assuring that the client is aware of his or her rights at every stage of the process and makes informed decisions with an awareness of legal implications and consequences. Since 1996, the office assumed the direct provision of GAL services in Juvenile Court dependency actions. Teams of attorneys and social workers have combined their expertise to advocate for the children's rights and needs.
The Public Defender, with the consent of the Court, administers an assigned counsel, rotating "team" panel system to ensure that cases are widely distributed among all willing and qualified attorneys. Services extend through trial level and into any necessary post conviction proceedings, including motions and appeals. These assigned counsel are responsible for felonies and Juvenile Court dependency proceedings and paternity cases. However, expert staff counsel may substitute on cases in which assigned counsel normally serve and assigned counsel may be involved in conflict cases in which staff generally has jurisdiction.
In order to maintain high quality representation of indigent defendants, the office regularly sponsors C.L.E. seminars which focus on topics relevant to criminal and family law defense lawyers. In addition, the office provides mentoring for both staff and assigned counsel, maintains a computerized motion and entry bank available to all attorneys, and funds other related aspects of the defense, including transcripts, depositions and expert witnesses.
The Hamilton County Public Defender Commission is proud to be a front-runner in providing quality, innovative service to indigent clients, and looks forward to incorporating new technologies and programs into future representation of our clients.