Montana

Gideon Alert: Legislative sponsor of the Montana Public Defender Act of 2005 calls for the system to be dismantled

BY David Carroll on Monday, August 2, 2010 at 2:45 PM

On June 9, 2005, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer signed into law the Public Defender Act of 2005.  The Act created an independent 11-member public defender commission that is statutorily bound to issue standards and to hire and oversee a Chief State Public Defender and other centralized staff.  At the same time, the Act provides the flexibility required to address the diverse needs of a geographically large yet sparsely populated state.  Deputy Chief Defenders operating in eleven distinct geographic regions monitor and enforce commission standards – some by relying on public defender offices, others by employing contract defenders.  Indigent defense providers in the regions are supported by the Chief State Defender’s centralized staff, including: a Director of Training; the State Appellate Office; a State Serious Crimes Defender Unit; and, Director of Management Information Services.

NLADA assessment of the right to counsel in seven Montana counties. Submitted in White v. Martz, a class-action lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Montana. That litigation led to wholesale legislative changes in 2005, creating a new statewide public defender system in Montana. With its legislative effort, Montana became the first state to intentionally incorporate each of the ABA Ten Principles into the Public Defender Act.

Author/Organization: National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA)
Publication Date: 08/04/2004

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Randi M. Hood

Speaker's Last Name: 
Hood
Title: 
Chief Public Defender
Organization: 
Montana Office of the State Public Defender
Address
Street: 
44 W. Park Street
City: 
Butte
State: 
Montana
Zip Code: 
59701
Phone: 
(406) 496-6082
Fax: 
(406) 496-6098
Email: 
rhood@mt.gov
Photo: 

Randi M.