SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) – The Oregon Judicial Department announced Monday that the Chief Justice, Governor, Senate President, and Speaker of the House are now accepting applications to serve on the Oregon Public Defense Commission, a new state commission responsible for the administration of public defense services in Oregon’s circuit and appellate courts.
The deadline to apply is October 5, 2023.
The commission was created by Senate Bill (SB) 337 (2023) and, effective January 1, 2024, assumes the responsibilities currently belonging to the Public Defense Services Commission (PDSC) and Office of Public Defense Services (OPDS).
“The Legislature has restructured public defense governance to add more voices and more experience,” Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Meagan Flynn said. “I strongly encourage Oregonians with experience in public defense, or criminal justice issues or juvenile justice issues, and who have a strong commitment to ensuring quality legal services for public defense clients to answer this call to serve.”
The OPDC will be responsible for providing lawyers to represent low-income Oregonians who can’t afford counsel in certain types of cases. It will fund attorneys for adults in criminal cases, youth in juvenile delinquency cases, parents and children in juvenile dependency cases, persons being involuntarily civilly committed because of a mental health disorder, and other statutorily defined cases.
The legislature created the OPDC to help ensure long-term stability in the state’s system to provide quality legal representation for people who qualify for a public defense attorney.
The 13-person commission (nine voting, four non-voting), which is established in the judicial branch of state government, will provide guidance and oversight for public defense services funded by the state. Commissioners will be appointed by Chief Justice Flynn, following recommendations from all three branches of government. All administrative authority will continue to rest with the commission, not the Chief Justice.
The commission will be transferred from the judicial branch to the executive branch on January 1, 2025, at which time the governor will appoint any new commission members, again based on recommendations from all three branches of government, and also appoint the OPDC executive director.
Among other qualifications, applicants for the commission must have significant experience with issues related to public defense or in the case types subject to representation by public defense providers and have demonstrated a strong commitment to quality public defense representation.
There are additional requirements for specific commission positions, including persons with lived experience with case types represented by public defense attorneys, as well as at-large positions to promote a breadth of experience and expertise. Information about the duties and qualifications of commission members is available at www.oregon.gov/opds/SiteAssets/Pages/default/OPDC.commission.description.pdf.
Being a commission member involves a significant time commitment. Members do not receive a salary, but are reimbursed for commission-related travel expenses, and qualifying commission members are eligible for a per diem on days they perform official business.
Those interested in serving as a member of the OPDC should complete an application, available at www.oregon.gov/gov/Pages/board-list.aspx. The deadline for applying is October 5, 2023.
For questions about the application process, please contact the Governor’s Executive Appointments Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.