Features – Public Defense Systems

Ken Strutin (JD, MLS) is an experienced law librarian, criminal defense attorney, and well-known writer and speaker. He is the author of The Insider’s Guide: Criminal Justice Resources on the Internet, and has lectured extensively about the benefits of using the Internet for legal research at national and local CLE training programs. Mr. Strutin also wrote ALI-ABA’s Practice Checklist Manual on Representing Criminal Defendants, and co-authored the award winning Legal Research Methodology computer tutorial, published by the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI). He has contributed chapters to several books and written many articles concerning knowledge management, legal research and criminal law. Mr. Strutin has taught courses in Advanced Legal Research and Law Office Management. He is also listed in Who’s Who in American Law. Currently, Mr. Strutin is the Director of Legal Information Services at the New York State Defenders Association and writes a column for the New York Law Journal. Other guides by Ken Strutin on LLRX.com.


This is a select collection of resources about public defense systems in the United States. The focus is on key studies, reports, and reference materials published on the web..

Public Defense Directories


  • Pine Tree Legal Services
    Their website offers links to civil legal services, legal aid, pro bono, backup centers, pro se site, and law school programs throughout the country, and some from around the world. Pine Tree is a statewide legal services program for the citizens of Maine.



< Resource Centers

In many states, public defenders, legal aid and assigned counsel rely on the support services provided by backup centers. These offices respond to the research and training needs of public defense attorneys, monitor case law and legislative developments, answer questions from the client community and members of the public, and serve as a clearinghouse for public defense advocacy and policy research.



Criminal Defense Lawyers Associations

There are many statewide and local criminal defense associations, as well as sections of general bar associations, that have dedicated resources to public defense work. The lists below provide web links to many of these groups.


Public defense systems vary from place to place. Some have established statewide systems and operate under commissions, while others are patchwork arrangements. And a few states are reevaluating their defender systems. Information about commissions and related developments can be found in the Spangenberg studies below. Underneath is a selection of state websites.




Arkansas Public Defender Commission
California California Habeas Corpus Resource Center
Colorado State Public Defender Commission

Alternate Defense Counsel Commission

Connecticut Public Defender Services Commission
District of Columbia Public Defender Service
Florida Florida Public Defender Association
Georgia Georgia Public Defender Standards Council
Hawaii Defender Council
Illinois Office of State Appellate Defender
Indiana Public Defender Commission
Iowa Indigent Defense Advisory Commission
Kansas State Board of Indigents’ Defense Services
Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy
Louisiana Louisiana Indigent Defense Assistance Board

Louisiana Task Force on Indigent Defense

Maryland Public Defender
Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services
Michigan Appellate Defender Commission
Minnesota Minnesota Public Defenders
Missouri Public Defender Commission
Montana Public Defender Commission
Nebraska Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy
New Hampshire Judicial Council

New Hampshire Public Defender

New York

New York State Commission on the Future of Indigent Defense Services

Capital Defender Office

North Carolina Public Defender Commission
North Dakota North Dakota Commission on Legal Counsel for Indigents
Ohio Hamilton County Public Defender Commission

Public Defender Commission

Oklahoma Oklahoma Indigent Defense System
Oregon Public Defense Services Commission
North Carolina Public Defender Commission
South Carolina Indigent Defense Commission
Texas Texas Task Force on Indigent Defens
Virginia Indigent Defense Commission

Virginia Indigent Defense Commission

Washington Office of Public Defense
Wisconsin State Public Defender

< Reports

The major bar associations, private research groups and government agencies have published reports on different aspects of public defense. They include systemwide surveys, funding studies, caseload analyses and highlights of significant problems and unmet mandates.


Nationwide Studies

Gideon 40th Anniversary Sites




These are compilations of national and state standards for the criminal justice system, and public defense in particular.



< Eligibility

The ability to afford counsel depends on many factors, and the assessment of those factors determines whether an accused will receive assigned representation. Below are several guidelines, albeit starting points, used in making this determination.




These resources are excellent starting points for locating national and local materials on public defense systems and the implementation of the right to counsel. The Resource Centers listed above are another good place to find information about a particular state’s system.


Bibliographies and Libraries

  • Indigent Defense (NACDL)
  • Indigent Defense (OJP)
  • Indigent Defense Resource Guide (NCSC)
  • National Committee on the Right to Counsel (NLADA)
  • National Criminal Justice Research Service (NCJRS)
  • National Equal Justice Library


    Posted in: Court Resources, Courts & Technology, Government Resources, Legal Research

    Copyright © 1996-2024 LLRX®