Public Defender Staff Addresses 7th Annual Conference
Indiana Supreme Court Division of State Court Administration attorneys, Deborah Neal and Jeff Wiese, addressed the 7th Annual Public Defense Office Administrators conference. The Indiana Public Defender Council hosted the event which was held on April 24, 2009 in Fishers, Indiana. Representatives from Allen, Floyd, Fulton, Henry, Lake, Marion, Monroe, St. Joseph, Vigo, and Washington counties were among the conference attendees. It was a great opportunity for these attorneys, who staff the Public Defender Commission, to meet with the people whose dedication and hard work allows the Public Defense Fund to disburse thousands and even millions of dollars to their county each quarter.
The Indiana legislature created the Public Defense Fund to reimburse counties for the costs associated with indigent legal defense representation in capital and non-capital cases. Lawmakers require compliance with the Indiana Public Defender Commission Standards in an effort to improve delivery of these legal services. State law authorizes counties to receive reimbursements of 50% of expenditures in capital cases and up to 40% in non-capital cases for indigent defense services. The United States and Indiana Constitutions guarantee every individual the right to legal representation in criminal cases.
Staff attorneys Neal and Wiese updated the group on changes in the reporting requirements for requesting reimbursements from the Public Defense Fund. They also answered questions from the participants and solicited from them suggestions on how to streamline the quarterly reporting system.
Rand Lennox and Emily Mahurin from JTAC presented an update on a Public Defender module and demonstrated the new prototype for the statewide case management system, Odyssey. David Shircliff from the Marion County Public Defender Agency spoke on the topic of informal leadership in public defender offices. Edward Alexander, Executive Director of the Indianapolis office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Inc., presented a program on how to deal with clients with mental health issues.
In a short period of time, those in attendance shared valuable information and creative ideas, leaving the meeting with a positive impression and looking forward to next year’s conference.