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OPDS Newsletter

I want to welcome you to Public Defense Services' new biweekly newsletter, which will land in your inbox every other Friday. Please share with your networks, and encourage colleagues to subscribe directly to get the latest updates on our work, including efforts to address the crisis of unrepresented persons.  
As of this writing, 803 people in Oregon are entitled to court-appointed counsel but do not have lawyers; 58 of them are in custody. We are working on multiple fronts to increase capacity while decreasing workloads for public defense attorneys, which can be a difficult balance. Increasing capacity means bringing on additional attorneys and retaining and training the attorneys we have. More efficiently managing demanding public defense workloads means providing support to attorneys so they can focus on representing their clients and closing their cases, thereby allowing them to take on new cases.  
I'm happy to report that on February 1, we launched a new tiered hourly rate structure with increased rates for non-contract attorneys who accept assignment of cases from the Oregon Judicial Department’s “OPDS Unrepresented” list. Also this month, the first Retention Incentive payments will be distributed to contracted entities and individuals. This new rate structure and incentive payment are two of the initiatives recently approved by the Public Defense Services Commission, with funding from a $10 million emergency allocation from the legislature that must be used to address this crisis. Read more details below.  
Contract administrators will start to hear from our Trial Division team over the coming days, with details and contract language for the attorney retention incentive program.  
I look forward to sharing the results of initiatives like these, as we work to stabilize the public defense workforce, increase accountability, and add efficiencies, to ensure all eligible individuals have timely access to legal services, consistent with Oregon and national standards of justice. 

PDSC Approves Plan for Investing $10 Million in Emergency Board Funds 

The programs implemented by Public Defense Services to date have mitigated the growth of the unrepresented persons crisis, but many of the underlying factors still exist. 
Public Defense Services intends to invest the $10 million Emergency Fund allocation in the December Emergency Board, as well as existing agency funds, as follows: 

1. Increased and Tiered Hourly Rate Structure for All Unrepresented Persons 

Goal: Increase capacity by investing $5,000,000 of the Emergency Fund allocation to increase the hourly rates for non-contract attorneys who accept assignment of cases from the Oregon Judicial Department’s “OPDS Unrepresented” list and implementing a tiered rate structure to target the greatest needs. 
In July 2022, Public Defense Services implemented a program to address the unrepresented persons crisis by authorizing $158 per hour for case assignments for any in-custody unrepresented person. Starting February 1, 2023 PDS implemented the following tiered rate structure to address all unrepresented persons whether they are in or out of custody, including increased rates for most types of cases: 
  • $125 per hour for misdemeanor, contempt, and probation violation cases 
  • $158 per hour for Class C felony and felony drug possession cases 
  • $164 per hour for Class A and B felony, juvenile dependency, termination-of-parental-rights, juvenile delinquency, habeas corpus, post-conviction relief, civil commitment, and Psychiatric Security Review Board cases 
  • $175 per hour for Ballot Measure 11 and felony sex offense cases 
  • $200 per hour for murder and Jessica’s Law cases. 
If you are interested in taking a case that qualifies for these new hourly rates email:  

2. Existing Attorney Retention Incentive Program 

Goal: Stabilize existing contractors and increase accountability by investing $6,000,000 of existing agency funds and $2,105,800 of the Emergency Fund allocation in a Supervised Civil Attorney Program.
In January 2023, the PDSC approved a series of payments to current contractors to incentivize them to retain their current attorneys and add stability to the public defense system. Contractors will receive funds based on the number of attorneys working the contract and a prorated amount of their total MAC. 
Each package of retention incentive payments totals $15,000 per 1.0 MAC attorney and is paid in monthly installments: 
  • 12.5% of the total funds dispersed each month from February to May 2023 
  • Remaining 50% of the funds dispersed in June 2023, so long as the attorney remains on the contract 

3. Supervised Civil Attorney Program 

Increase capacity by expanding the pool of attorneys available to represent out of custody persons charged with misdemeanors and minor felonies by investing $394,200 of the Emergency Fund allocation in a Supervised Civil Attorney Program. 
Some civil attorneys have expressed a desire to help in reducing the number of unrepresented persons by expanding their law practice to include some public defense cases.  
The Supervised Civil Bar Attorney Program will fund civil or other private bar attorneys to provide legal representation in misdemeanor cases. Attorneys taking these cases will be overseen by supervising attorneys who provide oversight of private attorneys appointed to represent financially eligible persons in misdemeanor cases. The supervising attorneys will be eligible for a $200 hourly rate, if you are interested in supervising please email 
Attorneys accepting court-appointed cases under supervision shall maintain time records and shall report to Public Defense Services on their work, including client communications, hearing and trial preparation, and time in court. 

4. Strategic Reserves 

Goal: Set the Agency up to be as strategic and adaptable as possible for the remainder of the biennium by setting aside $2,500,000 of the Emergency Fund allocation for investment in programs that are proven to reduce unrepresented people. 
Full details of these investments are available here.   
Public Defense Services has been a participant in the Tri-Branch Workgroup that has been meeting monthly since May of 2022. The workgroup is a wide-ranging group of public safety stakeholders, national experts, and elected officials, co-chaired by Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Douglas and Lane Counties) and Representative Paul Evans (D-Monmouth).

The Workgroup has developed three substantive bills, highlighted below, and will continue to meet monthly through the 2023 Regular Legislative Session, which began last month.

House Bill 2841 

Legislative Summary: Transfers Public Defense Services Commission from judicial to executive branch. Modifies appointment and removal process for and qualifications of commission members. Directs commission to designate liaison with office of public defense services and appoint director of juvenile services. Modifies duties of executive director of public defense services. Requires director to establish specific divisions within the office of public defense services. Requires that trial division provide 25 percent of trial-level public defense services by January 1, 2030, and 35 percent by January 1, 2035. Directs commission and executive director of office of public defense services to report annually to interim committees of the Legislative Assembly on progress with implementing Act. 

Senate Bill 322 

Legislative Summary: Transfers Public Defense Services Commission from judicial to executive branch. Modifies appointment and removal process for and qualifications of commission members. Declares emergency, effective on passage. 

Senate Bill 324 

Legislative Summary: Modifies appointment and removal process for members of Public Defense Services Commission. Modifies powers and duties of commission. Directs commission to establish and implement specified minimum standards, policies, guidelines and procedures. Directs justice and municipal courts to report every two years to commission and interim committees of Legislative Assembly related to judiciary concerning appointment of counsel in court. Declares emergency effective on passage. 

In addition, these two bills were requested by PDSC and introduced as Senate Committee bills: 

Senate Bill 329 

Legislative Summary: Authorizes Public Defense Services Commission to award grants for purpose of carrying out duties of commission. 

Senate Bill 397 

Legislative Summary: Provides that members of Public Defense Services Commission are entitled to per diem compensation for service on commission. Removes designation of fees and expenses of appointed counsel in criminal case that require preauthorization as "nonroutine" expenses. Provides that such fees and expenses are those that require preauthorization under policy of commission. 

Accounts Payable Processing Times 

  • As of February 1, processing time is 29 days. 
  • If you are experiencing billing issues that have been longer than 30 days, please email OPDS AP Invoice Issues at 
  • Please do not copy other individual staff from the agency. 

Upcoming Public Defense Services Commission Public Meetings: 

Monday, February 13, 2023 (not yet posted)  &
Thursday, February 23, 2023 

Public Defense Services Provider Summit 

Thursday, February 23, 2023 
The PDSC will be hosting a public defense summit for the purpose of gathering public defense providers together to discuss a variety of issues pertaining to public defense in Oregon. Topics will include the structure of public defense contracts, workload and ethics, and data reporting. 
The summit will be an in-person event held in Salem, and an agenda will be published when finalized. Check the Provider Summit website for announced speakers.
Register for the OPDS Provider Summit
For any questions pertaining to the summit please email 
The agency is working to obtain OSB CLE credit for portions of the program that qualify. 
Our mailing address is:

Office of Public Defense Services
Appellate Division
1175 Court Street NE
Salem, OR 97301

Business Services
198 Commercial Street SE, Suite # 205
Salem, OR 97301

Main Phone: (503) 378-3349

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