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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    Senate Document No. 13
    PUBLICATION YEAR 2004

    Document Title
    Final Report of the Virginia State Crime Commission on the Indigent Defense Commission

    Author
    Virginia State Crime Commission

    Enabling Authority
    SJR 43 (Regular Session, 2002)

    Executive Summary
    During the 2002 Session of the Virginia General Assembly, Senator Kenneth W. Stolle introduced Senate Joint Resolution 43 (SJ 43) (*1) and Delegate Terry G. Kilgore introduced House Joint Resolution 94 (HJ 94), (*2) directing the Virginia State Crime Commission to establish an indigent defense study committee to study and examine whether the establishment of a statewide indigent defense commission would improve the quality and efficiency of the Commonwealth's indigent defense services. Specifically, the resolutions directed the committee to study various models of statewide indigent defense commissions as used by other states and recommend whether such a commission is appropriate for Virginia, and if so, recommend the organizational structure for such an agency. Additionally, the resolutions directed the committee to examine whether a statewide commission should be endowed with any or all of the following responsibilities: to determine the appropriate mechanism for delivering indigent defense services within a given jurisdiction; to set training and other quality control standards for indigent defense counsel; to fund and provide specialized training for indigent defense counsel; to set standards for attorneys to be appointed to represent indigent criminal defendants; to set caseload standards for indigent defense counsel; and, to oversee the Commonwealth's expenditure of funds paid to private indigent defense counsel and to expert witnesses. The Crime Commission reported its written findings and recommendations to the Governor and the 2004 Session of the General Assembly. As a result of the study effort, the advisory committee made recommendations concerning the Commonwealth's indigent defense system. These recommendations, as follows, were approved by the Virginia State Crime Commission:

    Recommendations:

    Recommendation 1: Virginia should establish an Indigent Defense Commission.

    Recommendation 2: The Public Defender Commission should be reconfigured as the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission and have oversight of training and standards for both public defenders and court appointed counsel.

    Recommendation 3: The Virginia Indigent Defense Commission shall publicize and enforce the qualification standards for court appointed attorneys.

    Recommendation 4: Membership of the 12 member commission should be guided by national standards and include: Chairmen of the House Courts and Senate Courts Committees; Chairman of the Virginia State Crime Commission; Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia; two appointees from the Virginia State Bar; and, two appointments each by the Governor, Speaker of the House and the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee.

    Recommendation 5: One of the legislative and gubernatorial appointments shall be a citizen member of the Virginia State Bar, in private practice, with a demonstrated interest or background in criminal defense issues.

    Recommendation 6: The following training and practicum requirements should be mandated for experienced court appointed counsel representing felony defendants: six hour introductory Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits in criminal defense, including one hour of legal ethics; and the introductory course should be waived if the attorney certifies, on a form developed by the Indigent Defense Commission, that he has handled four felony cases, from preliminary hearing through completion within the past year.

    Recommendation 7: The following training and practicum requirements should be mandated for experienced court appointed counsel representing misdemeanor defendants: six hour introductory CLE credits in criminal defense, including one hour of legal ethics; introductory course should be waived if the attorney certifies he has handled four misdemeanor cases through completion within the past year.

    Recommendation 8: The following training and practicum requirements should be mandated for new court appointed counsel representing felony defendants: six hour introductory CLE credits in criminal defense, including one hour of legal ethics; and, the attorney certifies he has been first or second chair in four felony cases from preliminary hearing through completion within the past year.

    Recommendation 9: The following training and practicum requirements should be mandated for new court appointed counsel representing misdemeanor defendants: six hour introductory CLE course in criminal defense (one hour of ethics).

    Recommendation 10: The following training and practicum requirements should be mandated for experienced court appointed counsel representing juvenile defendants in delinquency cases: four-hour introductory CLE course in criminal defense (one hour of ethics); and, introductory course should be waived if the attorney certifies he has handled four juvenile delinquency cases through completion within the past year.

    Recommendation 11: The following training and practicum requirements should be mandated for new court appointed counsel representing juvenile defendants in delinquency cases: six hour introductory CLE course in criminal defense (one hour of ethics); four hour introductory CLE course concentrating on topics specific to the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court; and, the attorney certifies he has been first or second chair in four juvenile delinquency cases through completion within the past year.

    Recommendation 12: The Indigent Defense Commission shall determine CLE requirements for all court appointed counsel once certified. Training requirement should include: six hours of CLE's (one hour in legal ethics) every two years beginning November 1, 2004.

    Recommendation 13: The Indigent Defense Commission shall develop and sponsor the six hour introductory CLE class in criminal law and the four-hour introductory CLE class in juvenile law.

    Recommendation 14: The Indigent Defense Commission shall determine CLE course eligibility for renewal requirements.

    Recommendation 15: The Indigent Defense Commission shall develop the forms necessary to certify case representation requirements and all other forms necessary for application and renewal of court appointed attorneys.

    Recommendation 16: The Indigent Defense Commission shall maintain and distribute to the courts a list of certified court appointed attorneys.

    Recommendation 17: The Indigent Defense Commission shall report annually to the General Assembly on the status of indigent defense in the Commonwealth.

    Recommendation 18: The Indigent Defense Commission shall, in consultation with the Virginia State Crime Commission, develop Standards of Practice, by November 2004, which would be the basis for removal or suspension from public defense eligibility.

    These recommendations were incorporated into Senate Bill 330 (Stolle) (*3) and House Bill 1056 (Moran). (*4) Specifically, the legislation established the Indigent Defense Commission which will set criteria for court appointed lawyers, as well as assume the duties of the existing Public Defender Commission. These bills retained all existing public defender offices and added no additional offices. This legislation passed the 2004 Virginia General Assembly. (*5)
    __________________________________
    (*1) Senate Joint Resolution 43 (2002). See Attachment 1.
    (*2) House Joint Resolution 94 (2002). See Attachment 1.
    (*3) Senate Bill 330 (2004). See Attachment 2.
    (*4) House Bill 1056 (2004). See Attachment 2.
    (*5) 2004 Va. Acts ch.884.