Justice

The Colorado Public Defender Commission is accepting applications for a vacancy, to be filled by appointment of Chief Justice Nathan B. Coats.

The General Assembly in 1979 created the five-member commission, three of whom must be attorneys and the other two must not. By law, none of the members is permitted to be a judge, prosecutor, public defender, or be employed with a law enforcement agency.

Commissioners are empowered to appoint and remove the state public defender, who can serve for multiple terms of five years each. Commission members are unpaid.

Applicants for the open seat must be attorneys. Applications are due on June 15, and must indicate the political party of the applicant. No more than three commission members may be affiliated with a single party.

The Office of the State Public Defender provides legal representation to indigent persons accused of felonies or certain misdemeanors. The 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case of Gideon v. Wainwright decided that the Sixth Amendment established a right to counsel for state criminal defendants. That same year, the General Assembly created the office, to which the state Supreme Court initially appointed a public defender.

The public defender became its own independent entity in 1970. As of 2013, the office consisted of 410 lawyers and 240 other employees.

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