Chapter 2.96
PUBLIC DEFENSE SERVICES

Sections:

2.96.010    Adoption.

2.96.020    Duties and responsibilities of counsel.

2.96.030    Caseload limits and types of cases.

2.96.040    Compensation.

2.96.050    Expenses.

2.96.060    Reports of attorney activity and vouchers.

2.96.070    Training.

2.96.080    Monitoring and evaluation of attorneys.

2.96.090    Substitution of attorneys or assignment of contract.

2.96.100    Qualifications of attorneys.

2.96.110    Disposition of client complaints.

2.96.120    Cause for termination or removal of attorney.

2.96.130    Nondiscrimination.

2.96.140    Guidelines for awarding defense contracts.

2.96.010 Adoption.

To ensure that indigent criminal defendants receive high-quality legal representation through a public defense system that efficiently and effectively protects the constitutional requirement of effective assistance of counsel, the city hereby adopts the following standards for such services. (Ord. 2668 § 1, 2007)

2.96.020 Duties and responsibilities of counsel.

The legal representation plan shall be in the form of a contract between the city and the public defender. It shall require that defense services be provided to all clients in a professional, skilled manner consistent with minimum standards set forth by the American Bar Association, applicable state bar association standards, the Rules of Professional Conduct, case law and applicable court rules defining the duties of counsel and the rights of defendants in criminal cases. The duties of defense counsel in each case include, but are not necessarily limited to, investigation of the facts, research of relevant law, communication with the client, review possible motions, review plea alternatives, review dispositional alternatives, trial preparation and vigorous representation in court. (Ord. 2668 § 2, 2007)

2.96.030 Caseload limits and types of cases.

The caseload negotiated with the city’s public defender must allow each client the time and effort necessary to ensure effective representation. Caseload limits should be determined by the number and type of cases being accepted and on the local prosecutor’s charging and plea bargaining practices. The city shall ensure that the public defender shall not be required to accept more cases than can be reasonably managed. In these situations, the caseload ceiling should be based on the percentage of time the lawyer devotes to public defense. The firms providing legal services on behalf of city of Lynnwood must devote at least 25 percent of that firm’s time in providing services required to the city of Lynnwood under this contract. (Ord. 2668 § 3, 2007)

2.96.040 Compensation.

The city’s public defender compensation shall be established through negotiation of contract for defender services. The compensation package should reflect the customary compensation of the community for similar services rendered by other publicly paid attorneys to a public client. The city shall consider training, experience, and the nature and extent of services requested and the time and labor required of the attorney undertaking defender services. Services which require extraordinary fees should be defined in the contract. (Ord. 2668 § 4, 2007)

2.96.050 Expenses.

A. Expert Witnesses. Reasonable compensation for expert witnesses necessary to preparation and presentation of the defense case shall be provided. Expert witness fees should be maintained and allocated from funds separate from those provided for defender services. Requests for expert witness fees under Court Rule 3.1(f) should be made through an ex parte motion. The defense should be free to retain the expert of its choosing and in no cases should be required to select experts from a list pre-approved by either the court or the prosecution.

B. Administrative. Contracts for public defense services should include the administrative costs associated with providing legal representation. These costs may include travel, telephones, law library, financial accounting, case management systems, the reporting requirements imposed by these standards and other costs necessarily incurred in the day-to-day management of the contract.

C. Services. Contracts for public defender services should include the support services associated with legal representation, including, but not limited to, secretarial and office support, paralegals, mental health services, social services, and investigators. (Ord. 2668 § 5, 2007)

2.96.060 Reports of attorney activity and vouchers.

The legal representation plan shall require that the defense attorney or office maintain a case reporting and management information system which includes number and type of cases, attorney hours and disposition. This information shall be provided regularly to the city and shall also be made available to the office of the administrator of the courts. Any such system shall be maintained independently from client files so as to disclose no personal information. (Ord. 2668 § 6, 2007)

2.96.070 Training.

Attorneys providing public defense services should participate in regular training programs on criminal defense law, including a minimum of seven hours of continuing legal education annually in areas relating to their public defense practice. Every attorney providing counsel to indigent accused should have the opportunity to attend courses that foster trial advocacy skills and to review professional publications and tapes. (Ord. 2668 § 7, 2007)

2.96.080 Monitoring and evaluation of attorneys.

The plan for public defense services should establish a procedure for systematic monitoring and evaluation of attorney performance based upon published criteria. Supervision and evaluation efforts should include review of time and caseload records, review and inspection of transcripts, in-court observations and periodic conferences. (Ord. 2668 § 8, 2007)

2.96.090 Substitution of attorneys or assignment of contract.

The attorney engaged by the city to provide public defense services should not subcontract with another firm or attorney to provide representation and should remain directly involved in the provision of representation. If the contract is with a firm or office, the city should request the names and experience levels of those attorneys who will actually be providing the services, to ensure they meet minimum qualifications. The employment agreement shall address the procedures for continuing representation of clients upon the conclusion of the agreement. (Ord. 2668 § 9, 2007)

2.96.100 Qualifications of attorneys.

In order to assure that indigent accused receive the effective assistance of counsel to which they are constitutionally entitled, attorneys providing defense services should meet the following minimums:

A. Satisfy the minimum requirements for practicing law in Washington as determined by the Washington Supreme Court; and

B. Complete seven hours of continuing legal education within each calendar year in courses relating to their public defense practice. (Ord. 2668 § 10, 2007)

2.96.110 Disposition of client complaints.

The legal representation plan shall include a method to respond promptly to client complaints. Complaints should first be directed to the attorney, firm or agency which provided representation. If the client feels that he or she has not received an adequate response, the city shall designate a person or agency to evaluate the legitimacy of complaints and to follow up meritorious ones. The complaining client should be informed as to the disposition of his or her complaint within one week. (Ord. 2668 § 11, 2007)

2.96.120 Cause for termination or removal of attorney.

Contracts for defense services shall include the grounds for termination of the contract by the parties. Termination of any attorney’s contract should only be for cause. Good cause shall include the failure of the attorney to render adequate representation to clients, the willful disregard of the rights and best interests of the client and the willful disregard of the standards herein addressed. (Ord. 2668 § 12, 2007)

2.96.130 Nondiscrimination.

Neither the city, in its selection of an attorney, firm or agency to provide public defense representation, nor the attorneys selected, in their hiring practices or in their representation of clients, shall discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation or handicap. Both the city and the contractor shall comply with all federal, state and local nondiscrimination requirements. (Ord. 2668 § 13, 2007)

2.96.140 Guidelines for awarding defense contracts.

The city should award contracts for public defense services only after determining that the attorney or firm chosen can meet accepted professional standards. Under no circumstances should a contract be awarded on the basis of cost alone. Attorneys or firms bidding for contracts must demonstrate their ability to meet these standards. (Ord. 2668 § 14, 2007)