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OPDS Newsletter

Last week’s snowstorm took the Willamette Valley by surprise. I’m so disappointed that we had to cancel our Provider Summit, but everyone’s safety takes priority. My team is tentatively looking at rescheduling the Summit for September. Some of the speakers' materials are still available on the Summit webpage. In the meantime, we are committed to having a dialogue with the provider community regarding the 2023-25 proposed contracts. Look for coming invitations to small group virtual meetings and please go to this webpage for other feedback channels. 
Fortunately, the Public Defense Service Commission was still able to meet virtually last week, and they heard an update on our efforts to revise the existing Oregon public defense contract to better organize it. The proposed new contract structure is based on a model public defense contract from the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association (NLADA), with language from our existing contract re-organized into this clearer format. There are terms removed from the prior contract, and on occasion, new language introduced. Much of the new language is based upon language from the NLADA model contract. 
There are three proposed substantial changes to the contract. We propose moving to two tiers of reimbursement rates, rather than four. We propose only contracting with attorneys who are giving at least half of their time to public defense work – so .5 FTE and up. And we are proposing a 15% variance on the maximum attorney caseload to account for jurisdictional practice differences.  
PDSC also heard great presentations by Jon Mosher with the Sixth Amendment Center and Malia Brink discussing the ABA’s work on caseloads. There’s more information in the PDSC section below, including links to watch their presentations. 
Finally, OPDS has added a new resource page dedicated to updates on the 2020 United States Supreme Court Ramos v Louisiana case regarding non-unanimous juries, and the 2022 Oregon Supreme Court decision in Watkins v Ackley that ruled Ramos applies retroactively under state law.  
These decisions mean anyone in Oregon who had a non-unanimous jury conviction is entitled to a new trial, and must first file a postconviction relief (PCR) claim. There is currently no limit on how long ago the non-unanimous conviction was entered; there is, however, a time limit for bring PCR claims arising from Watkins—currently two years from the Watkins decision, or December 30, 2024 (that may be shortened through legislation). There’s more information, and a link to the form to apply for post-conviction relief, on the Non-unanimous Jury Verdicts page.  
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. OPDS continues to seek attorneys interested in taking on cases that qualify for the new, temporary hourly rates that went into effect on February 1. Also Phase One of the Supervised Civil attorney Program is live and ready for participants.

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 OPDS implemented increased rates in a tiered structure to address all unrepresented persons whether they are in or out of custody, including increased rates for most types of cases. The unrepresented persons webpage has all the details.

If you are interested in taking a case that qualifies for these new hourly rates, please email: .


Phase One of Supervised Civil Attorney Program is Live

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.

If you are a civil attorney interested in signing up to help, please use this form.

If you are an attorney with a court-appointed criminal case, please use this form.

For more information, please contact
Yesterday in the Public Safety Subcommittee of Ways and Means, committee members accepted a report from the agency outlining the Public Defense Services Commission's revised plan to spend $10 million in funds allocated by the legislature's Emergency Board, to address the unrepresented persons crisis. The Legislative Fiscal Office’s analysis can be found here.

Accounts Payable Processing Times  

  • As of March 1, processing time is 30 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.  

Continued Slowdown in Case Support Services (CSS) Requests Processing Time

Earlier this week, we sent a message with an update on the Case Support Services (CSS) slowdown. It is also available here under “Recent News." CSS is for non-attorney providers on cases, such as investigators, interpreters, psychologists, and other experts. Attorneys must seek pre-approval from the agency for much of this work. 

Currently, it may take up to three weeks for a CSS request to be processed and for the attorney to receive a decision. We have implemented an “all hands-on deck” approach, with staff from other parts of the agency pitching in to get through the backlog of requests and bring the turnaround time back down over the next few weeks. 
Please note that you can help us in working through the backlog by doing the following:  
  • Reserve any follow-up emails (i.e. checking in on a submitted CSS request) for only the requests that have become a RUSH since submission. 
  • Be sure that any case for which you are requesting $75/hour for an investigator has been approved by OPDS for the increased hourly rate. We have seen an uptick in requests for $75/hour for investigators, many of which are for cases that do not qualify for the increased hourly rate because the case was never on the OJD Unrepresented Persons Dashboard. 
  • Double check your CSS requests to ensure your case number and client names match and that your signature date is within 3 days of submission. 
We want you to know that we are trying our best to get back on track and our team is very grateful for your patience and assistance as we work through this unexpected reduction in our already small (four-person) CSS team.
The Public Defense Services Commission (PDSC) met on Thursday, February 23, to review the caseload forecast for the upcoming fiscal year and discuss draft contracts for the upcoming biennium. 
PDSC also heard presentations on Oregon and national public defense reform efforts. Jon Mosher with the Sixth Amendment Center (6AC) provided an overview of 6AC’s 2019  assessment of the trial level public defense services in the state. The report found that Oregon’s public defense system is a complex bureaucracy that is a hindrance to providing effective counsel, and Oregon’s fixed fee contract system is too-often pitted appointed lawyers’ financial self-interest against the due process rights of their clients. Those findings led to further analysis of attorney workloads in Oregon, and to OPDS’ current structure of contracting based on Maximum Attorney Caseload, not on a per-case basis.  
Malia Brink, who worked on the ABA Oregon Project also presented, and highlighted forthcoming national public defense workload standards.  
If you missed the live broadcast, the video is accessible here, and the presentations start at 32:30. Slides and other materials from their presentations are available here, starting on page 23.

Upcoming Public Defense Services Commission Public Meetings:  

Thursday,  March 16, 2023, 9-11 am  
  • 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.  
  • The Oregonian: Oregon is losing public defenders. How much money will bring them back? (February 22, 2022).
    • Subscription required. Highlight: “Many proponents for change say solving Oregon’s public defense shortage comes down to one simple solution: Raising pay. But by how much? And, with competing priorities from schools to housing, is there the political will to spend the money?” 
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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