Public Defenders

ORS 151.216


The Public Defense Services Commission shall:


Establish and maintain a public defense system that ensures the provision of public defense services in the most cost-efficient manner consistent with the Oregon Constitution, the United States Constitution and Oregon and national standards of justice.


Establish an office of public defense services and appoint a public defense services executive director who serves at the pleasure of the commission.


Submit the budget of the commission and the office of public defense services to the Legislative Assembly after the budget is submitted to the commission by the director and approved by the commission. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the chairperson of the commission shall present the budget to the Legislative Assembly.


Review and approve any public defense services contract negotiated by the director before the contract can become effective.


Adopt a compensation plan, classification system and personnel plan for the office of public defense services that are commensurate with other state agencies.


Adopt policies, procedures, standards and guidelines regarding:


The determination of financial eligibility of persons entitled to be represented by appointed counsel at state expense;


The appointment of counsel;


The fair compensation of counsel appointed to represent a person financially eligible for appointed counsel at state expense;


Appointed counsel compensation disputes;


Any other costs associated with the representation of a person by appointed counsel in the state courts that are required to be paid by the state under ORS 34.355 (Appointment of counsel), 135.055 (Compensation and expenses of appointed counsel), 138.500 (Appointment of counsel and furnishing of transcript for appellant without funds), 138.590 (Petitioner may proceed as a financially eligible person), 161.346 (Hearings on discharge, conditional release, commitment or modification), 161.348 (Judicial review), 161.365 (Procedure for determining issue of fitness to proceed), 419A.211 (Appointment of counsel), 419B.201 (Compensation for court-appointed counsel for child or ward under ORS 135.055), 419B.208 (Other law applicable to appointment of counsel), 419B.518 (Appointment of counsel for parents), 419B.908 (Witness fees), 419C.206 (Compensation for counsel when youth, parent or guardian cannot pay), 419C.209 (Applicability of other laws), 419C.408 (Witness fees), 419C.535 (Appointed counsel), 426.100 (Advice of court), 426.135 (Counsel on appeal), 426.250 (Payment of costs related to commitment proceedings), 426.307 (Court hearing), 427.265 (Court to advise person of nature of proceeding and rights), 427.295 (Appeal of commitment order), 436.265 (Appointment of counsel) or 436.315 (Appointment of appeal counsel) or any other provision of law that expressly provides for payment of such compensation, costs or expenses by the commission;


Professional qualifications for counsel appointed to represent public defense clients;


Performance for legal representation;


The contracting of public defense services;


Contracting with expert witnesses to allow contracting with out-of-state expert witnesses only if in-state expert witnesses are not available or are more expensive than out-of-state expert witnesses; and


Any other matters necessary to carry out the duties of the commission.


Establish a peer review system for the approval of nonroutine fees and expenses incurred in cases involving aggravated murder and the crimes listed in ORS 137.700 (Offenses requiring imposition of mandatory minimum sentences) and 137.707 (Mandatory minimum sentences for certain juvenile offenders waived to adult court). The review shall be conducted by a panel of attorneys who practice in the area of criminal defense.


Establish a complaint process that allows district attorneys, criminal defense counsel and the public to file complaints concerning the payment from public funds of nonroutine fees and expenses incurred in cases.


Reimburse the State Court Administrator from funds deposited in the Public Defense Services Account established by ORS 151.225 (Public Defense Services Account) for the costs of personnel and other costs associated with location of eligibility verification and screening personnel pursuant to ORS 151.489 (Personnel to verify financial eligibility) by the State Court Administrator.


Policies, procedures, standards and guidelines adopted by the commission supersede any conflicting rules, policies or procedures of the Public Defender Committee, State Court Administrator, circuit courts, the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court and the Psychiatric Security Review Board related to the exercise of the commission’s administrative responsibilities under this section and transferred duties, functions and powers as they occur.


The commission may accept gifts, grants or contributions from any source, whether public or private. However, the commission may not accept a gift, grant or contribution if acceptance would create a conflict of interest. Moneys accepted under this subsection shall be deposited in the Public Defense Services Account established by ORS 151.225 (Public Defense Services Account) and expended for the purposes for which given or granted.


The commission may not:


Make any decision regarding the handling of any individual case;


Have access to any case file; or


Interfere with the director or any member of the staff of the director in carrying out professional duties involving the legal representation of public defense clients. [2001 c.962 §§3,106; 2003 c.449 §§1,2,42; 2005 c.843 §23; 2011 c.708 §20; 2012 c.107 §42; 2017 c.442 §19]
Note: See note under 151.211 (Definitions for ORS 151.211 to 151.221).


Last accessed
Jun. 26, 2021