Chapter 2.42


2.42.010    Authority.

2.42.020    Compensation of counsel.

2.42.030    Duties and responsibilities of counsel.

2.42.040    Case load limits and types of cases.

2.42.050    Responsibility for expert witness fees and associated services.

2.42.060    Administrative expenses.

2.42.070    Support services.

2.42.080    Reporting procedures.

2.42.090    Training, supervision, monitoring, and evaluation of counsel.

2.42.100    Substitution of counsel and assignment of contracts.

2.42.110    Limitations on private practice.

2.42.120    Qualifications of counsel.

2.42.130    Disposition of client complaints.

2.42.140    Termination of contract or removal of counsel.

2.42.150    Nondiscrimination.

2.42.160    Update and evaluation.

2.42.010 Authority.

The standards contained in this chapter are adopted pursuant to Chapter 10.101 RCW, Indigent Defense Services, for the purpose of providing fair, effective, reasonable, and professional indigent defense services as required by law. These standards are based in substantial part on the indigent standards approved by the Washington State Bar Association and Washington State Defender Association. [Ord. 2011-9 § 1, 2011.]

2.42.020 Compensation of counsel.

Compensation of counsel shall be established through negotiation of an individual contract for public defense services. The City shall consider training, experience, the nature and extent of services requested, and the time and labor required of the attorneys undertaking defender services. Services that require extraordinary fees should be defined in the individual contract. When a conflict exists separate counsel shall be provided to the defendant by the City. [Ord. 2011-9 § 1, 2011.]

2.42.030 Duties and responsibilities of counsel.

Counsel shall follow the duties and responsibilities set forth in the individual contract. Counsel shall maintain malpractice insurance with agreed-upon policy limits. The individual contract shall require that public defense services be provided to all clients in a professional, skilled manner consistent with minimum standards set forth by the Washington State Bar Association, case law, and in particular Wilbur vs. City of Mount Vernon, and applicable court rules defining the duties of counsel, and the rights of defendants in criminal cases. Counsel’s primary and most fundamental responsibility is to promote and protect the best interest of the client. The Public Defender, conflict counsel and every attorney providing indigent defense services by contract with the City shall warrant that he/she has:

A. Read the Wilbur vs. City of Mount Vernon (December 2013) decision, and will provide services in accord with its provisions; and

B. Ensured that the compensation provided is sufficient to provide adequate training, administrative and staff services, and infrastructure required by these standards, court rule, and the State and Federal Constitution. [Ord. 2015-4 § 1, 2015; Ord. 2011-9 § 1, 2011.]

2.42.040 Case load limits and types of cases.

The City shall endeavor to include in individual contracts the types of cases for which representation is to be provided and the maximum number of cases which each attorney shall be expected to handle. Case loads shall allow counsel to give each client the time and effort necessary to provide effective representation. Case load limits should be determined by the number and type of cases being accepted and by the City Prosecutor’s charging and plea bargaining practices. The Public Defender, conflict counsel, and every attorney providing indigent defense services by contract with the City shall comply with all case load limitations imposed pursuant to the court rule and adopted standards of the Washington State Supreme Court. [Ord. 2015-4 § 2, 2015; Ord. 2011-9 § 1, 2011.]

2.42.050 Responsibility for expert witness fees and associated services.

Expert witness fees and additional associated services, including investigative services, support services, or other services necessary in a case will be paid as provided in the individual contract. Investigators, when used, should have criminal investigation training and experience. [Ord. 2011-9 § 1, 2011.]

2.42.060 Administrative expenses.

Administrative costs of providing representation shall be counsel’s responsibility. Such costs shall include, but not be limited to, travel, telephones, law library, electronic research, financial accounting, case management systems, computers and software, office space and supplies, training, meeting the reporting requirements imposed by these standards, and other costs necessarily incurred in the day-to-day management of the individual contract. Private offices and/or conference rooms shall be available which allow the maintenance of confidentiality. A telephone system, Internet access and postal address shall be provided by the Public Defender. [Ord. 2015-4 § 3, 2015; Ord. 2011-9 § 1, 2011.]

2.42.070 Support services.

Counsel shall staff his/her office with an appropriate number of support staff and other support services. Counsel shall also acquire or maintain appropriate computer/word processing equipment in order to handle the paperwork generated by the contract case load as well as to comply with the reporting procedures required in SMC 2.42.080. The Public Defender, when needed, will provide access to the services of a social worker, mental health professional and translator. The cost for these services will be provided per the terms of the contract. [Ord. 2015-4 § 4, 2015; Ord. 2011-9 § 1, 2011.]

2.42.080 Reporting procedures.

A. Counsel shall maintain a case reporting and management information system, which includes the number, type, attorney hours, and disposition of indigent defense cases. All of the above-described information shall be provided to the City on a regular basis or such other schedule agreed to by the City. Counsel’s case reporting and management information system shall be maintained independently from client files in order to not disclose any privileged information. All records pertaining to expenses and billing shall conform to generally accepted accounting principles.

B. All Public Defenders providing services by contract shall quarterly certify their compliance with the standards for indigent defense by filing a certification of compliance as required by CrR 3.1, CrRLJ 3.1 and JuCR 9.2. Such forms shall be filed with the City’s Municipal Court. Copies of each Public Defender’s certification shall be provided to the City’s Defense Contract Administrator. [Ord. 2015-4 § 5, 2015; Ord. 2011-9 § 1, 2011.]

2.42.090 Training, supervision, monitoring, and evaluation of counsel.

A. All training, supervision, monitoring, and evaluation of counsel shall conform to the standards set by the Washington State Bar Association and the Washington State Defender Association.

B. The City Manager shall designate a Public Defense System Contract Administrator to provide monitoring and evaluation of the public defense services provided by the City.

C. Public defense services shall include a case reporting system and information management system. Such systems shall have the capability to provide periodic reports to the City regarding the caseload generated under the contract for each attorney and intern providing services under the contract, case disposition and history. [Ord. 2015-4 § 6, 2015; Ord. 2011-9 § 1, 2011.]

2.42.100 Substitution of counsel and assignment of contracts.

The counsel engaged by local government to provide public defense services should not sub-contract 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 the minimum qualifications. The employment agreement should address the procedures for continuing representation of clients upon the conclusion of the agreement. Alternative or conflict counsel should be available for substitution in conflict situations at no cost to the counsel declaring the conflict. Conflict counsel shall adhere to the standards established by this chapter, including, but not limited to, an evaluation of the overall case count annually by conflict counsel under the procedures set forth in this agreement. [Ord. 2015-4 § 7, 2015; Ord. 2011-9 § 1, 2011.]

2.42.110 Limitations on private practice.

Contracts for indigent defense services with private attorneys or firms may set limits on the number of private or special appointment cases which can be accepted by the contracting attorney or provide that the indigent defense contract be a priority over private or special appointment case loads. An attorney or firm rendering indigent defense services shall not allow his or her private practice or special appointments to diminish his or her ability to represent indigent clients he or she is obligated to serve by the individual contract. [Ord. 2011-9 § 1, 2011.]

2.42.120 Qualifications of counsel.

Counsel shall be licensed to practice law in the State of Washington, be members in good standing of the Washington State Bar Association, comply with all applicable rules relating to the practice of law that have been or may be promulgated by the Washington State Supreme Court, and be capable of performing all necessary duties stated in the individual contract. Counsel shall have legal experience devoted to practice in the area of criminal law during which time counsel shall have demonstrated his/her competence in the area of criminal law. [Ord. 2011-9 § 1, 2011.]

2.42.130 Disposition of client complaints.

A method to respond promptly to indigent defendant client complaints shall be established by counsel. If the attorney and client cannot resolve the complaint amicably, the attorney shall ask the court for permission to withdraw and substitute new counsel. The complaining client should be informed as to the disposition of his or her complaint within a reasonable period of time. If the client feels dissatisfied with the evaluation and response received, he or she should be advised of the right to complain to the Washington State Bar Association. [Ord. 2011-9 § 1, 2011.]

2.42.140 Termination of contract or removal of counsel.

A. The termination of an individual contract for public defense services will be determined by the provisions set forth in the individual contract. Removal by the court of counsel from representation normally should not occur over the objection of both counsel and the client.

B. Termination of the contract, other than by mutual agreement or expiration of its term, shall occur only for “good cause.” Good cause shall include the failure of the contract Public Defender to render adequate representation to clients, the willful disregard of the rights and best interests of the client, and/or the willful disregard of these standards. Termination may also occur for violation of the express terms of the contract; provided, however, that the Public Defender shall be provided reasonable opportunity, following notice, to cure any technical contract violations that do not impair the provision of quality representation to the indigent client. [Ord. 2015-4 § 8, 2015; Ord. 2011-9 § 1, 2011.]

2.42.150 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. [Ord. 2011-9 § 1, 2011.]

2.42.160 Update and evaluation.

As the rules established by the Washington State Supreme Court are applied and interpreted by the Courts and, when appropriate, the Washington State Bar Association and other administrative agencies, the City states its intent to review and modify these standards. [Ord. 2015-4 § 9, 2015.]