It is the constitutional duty of the State of Oregon to ensure fairness to everyone in the criminal legal system. All people deserve the opportunity to have a competent and funded zealous advocate when the state brings a case against them. It is the foundation of our justice system. The absence of strong, well-resourced indigent defense systems offends the Constitution, leads to deeply unfair results, and contributes to our overburdened and wasteful jail and prison systems.
HB 3145 bill removes the unfair flat-fee structure for defense compensation, creates an independent commission on defense attorneys’ behalf, provides training to public defenders, specifically where the unique needs of indigent defendants are concerned, and holds public defenders to caseload standards to ensure defendants that their attorney is not over-worked and unable to properly represent them.
Note that while this bill did not pass, another bill (HB 5050) did pass which included a significant increase to our public defense budget. While we did not achieve everything we were asking the legislature for, we see the inclusion of additional funding in HB 5050 as a step in the right direction.