Senate Bill 47
148th General Assembly (2015 - 2016)
The General Assembly has ended, the current status is the final status.
AN ACT TO AMEND THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO CRIMINAL DEFENSE FOR INDIGENT PERSONS.
Every indigent person accused of a crime has the Constitutional right to effective, conflict-free counsel funded by the state. In Delaware, the Public Defender's Office and the Office of Conflict Counsel are charged with the responsibility of providing counsel for indigent people accused of crimes. The Public Defender's Office is a publicly funded law firm representing about 83% of all indigent defendants in Delaware. The Office of Conflicts Counsel is comprised of a group of lawyers who are independent contractors. They represent clients who cannot be represented by the Public Defender's Office due to a legally recognized conflict of interest. This bill modernizes the business model of the Public Defender's Office and the Office of Conflicts Counsel by consolidating their administrative functions while not compromising the interests of any client. The non-case related functions of both the Public Defender's Office and the Office of Conflicts Counsel will be handled by a Central Administration, all beneath the umbrella of an Office of Defense Services. In particular, the changes implemented by this bill will enhance the quality of representation by the lawyers contracting with the Office of Conflicts Counsel in the areas of IT support, training, client intake, early contact with clients and bill payments. This bill will ensure that all indigent persons accused of crime will be well represented. In addition to the modernization of the business model for delivery of indigent defense services, this bill changes the term of future Chief Defenders from 6 to 8 years. This bill is the same as Senate Bill 28 with the addition of changes to the various references in the entire code required by the name changes.
Takes effect upon being signed into law