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OPDS Newsletter

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at our 2023 Provider Summit next Thursday, February 23. The full agenda went out on Monday and is posted on our website. The day will include discussions about our proposed contract language, presentations from national experts, as well as a panel discussion with invited Oregon Legislators. It’s not too late to register; see below for more details.   
I’m happy to report that our Trial Programs Division processed 146 contract amendments in the last two weeks. As a result, the first payments toward $8.1 million in retention incentives are out the door to Oregon’s public defense attorneys. Our team worked quickly to finalize those amendments so providers can start to see the retention benefits as soon as possible.   
Now, the Trial Programs Division is turning their attention back to auditing caseload reports. This information is critically important for OPDS to collect; it helps us understand what’s happening at the local level, so we can forecast public defense caseloads and have accurate data to show the legislature when we talk about needed investments in our state’s public defense system. Our team may be reaching out to you if there is information in need of updating; I want to thank you in advance for working with us to ensure we have the best possible data.   
In my role as Public Defense Services director, I want to fully understand the potential on-the-ground impacts of any policy and program changes we consider. I’ve re-convened the Public Defense Advisory Group—a group of about a dozen providers and commissioners from all across Oregon—to share their experiences and expertise with me. Our first meeting was this week, and I look forward to sharing more about this group in future newsletters.   
And finally, I want to recognize former public defender and current Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne C. Nelson, who was confirmed as a federal district court judge this week by the U.S. Senate. Hon. Nelson was nominated to the federal bench last fall by President Joe Biden.   
Thank you for taking the time to read about the work we’re doing at Public Defense Services. Please share this biweekly newsletter with your networks, and encourage colleagues to subscribe directly to get the latest updates on our work. 
OPDS’s efforts to increase public defense services capacity to meet representation needs throughout Oregon continue, with the launch of a first phase Supervised Civil Attorney Program. OPDS also continues to seek attorneys interested in taking on cases that qualify for the new, temporary hourly rates that went into effect on February 1.

Phase One of Supervised Civil Attorney Program Launched

The first phase of OPDS’ Supervised Civil Attorney Program is now open to both interested civil bar attorneys and public defense providers in need of assistance.

This program is designed to connect public defense attorneys with civil bar attorneys to aid in their cases. Civil bar attorneys shall be associated with and supervised by qualified public defense providers. The civil lawyer will primarily provide legal research and motion writing support and may be asked to argue legal issues in court. Civil bar attorneys will be required to sign an attorney agreement with PDSC and to follow OPDS’ performance standards in their representation; they will be compensated at a rate of $105/hour. For more information, please contact

A second phase, designed to provide supervision and training to civil bar attorneys who are willing to accept misdemeanor court-appointed cases, is still in the process of being implemented. Participating attorneys will be required to meet certain requirements and standards. Supervisors who participate in the program will be members of the criminal bar with an in-depth understanding of all phases of the legal system, with experience representing clients in all aspects of serious criminal cases, as well as a familiarity with local practice and procedures. Supervising Attorneys shall be compensated at the rate of $200 per hour pursuant to an Attorney Agreement.

Increased and Tiered Hourly Rate Structure for All Unrepresented Persons

OPDS continues to seek attorneys who are interested in taking on a case that qualifies for new, temporary rates.

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
The Public Defense Services Commission met on Monday, February 13, to discuss elements of the Tri-Branch Workgroup bill, HB 2841. Those elements include a proposal to move Public Defense Services from Oregon’s Judicial Branch to the Executive Branch, proposed changes to the makeup of the Commission, and proposed changes to the public defense service delivery model toward goal percentages of trial level public defense handled by state employees.

While nothing was officially voted on, the Commission agreed that maintaining the independence of the public defense system is a top priority, and any changes should be viewed through the lens of maintaining independence. With that in mind, the Commission agreed that:
  • A governance model that is in accordance with national standards and ABA, specifically in reference to the move to the Executive, should be supported;

  • Incorporating language from SB 322 around limits to the Governor’s ability to remove Commissioners, and language maintaining the Commission’s ability to recommend an agency budget even when it is part of the larger Governor’s budget, are important to ensuring the Commission’s independence;

  • Overly specific appointment requirements for Commission appointments could lead to vacant Commission positions. The flexible language in HB 2841 around Commission make up is preferable than the stricter language in the Senate bill.

Accounts Payable Processing Times

  • As of February 14, 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.

Slowdown in Case Support Services Requests Processing Time

We wanted to make you aware of a staff shortage in our Case Support Services department, which processes requests for services such as, investigation, expert witnesses, travel, interpreters, and other case-related expenses.

This change in staff—from a team of four to a team of two—was unexpected and coincided with an unusually high volume of requests over the last couple months. This has resulted in longer processing times, and we are adjusting as quickly as we can. We have already brought on a temporary staff person last week who will be getting up to speed as quickly as they can. We hope to have the second position filled in the next few weeks.

Please be assured that we are processing requests as quickly as we are able, and we appreciate your patience during this time. Our goal is to be back to regular processing times by the end of the month. To make this process smoother for everyone, please only use “rush” for impending trials/hearings, double check that your case number and client names match, and make sure your signature date is within 3 days of submission.

Thank you for bearing with us as we work to get back on track.

Upcoming Public Defense Services Commission Public Meetings

Thursday, February 23, 2023, 9-11 am

The Commission will meet in person at the 2023 Provider Summit. The meeting will include presentations from the Sixth Amendment Center and Malia Brink, who worked with the American Bar Association on the January 2022 Oregon Project analysis, as well as a preview of OPDS’ financial forecast and contracts for the 2023-25 biennium.
  • Agenda and materials will be posted on our website under Commission Agendas & Meeting Schedule.

  • Virtual attendance available as Microsoft Teams Live Event (link in agenda). You may stream the meeting live or view the recording at your convenience via the same link once the meeting has concluded.

Public Defense Services Provider Summit

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Next week, Thursday February 23rd we are hosting a full day summit to gather in person in Salem, to discuss a variety of topics 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 (Reed Opera House, 189 Liberty St NE, Salem, OR 97301), and a full agenda is published on the 2023 Provider Summit website. Announced speakers include:
Register Here for the Public Defense Services 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. 
This will be a primarily in-person event, with limited webinar-style livestreaming (web viewers will not be able to engage or ask questions). Livestreaming starts at 9 am for the PDSC meeting, and will continue through the legislative panel’s conclusion at 12:45pm. The livestream link will be posted here by close of business on Wednesday, February 22.
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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