The Oklahoma Indigent Defense System implements the Indigent Defense Act by providing trial, appellate, and post-conviction criminal defense services to persons who have been judicially determined to be entitled to legal counsel at State expense. The mission of the System is to provide indigents with legal representation comparable to that obtainable by those who can afford counsel and to do so in the most cost effective manner possible.
The System is a state agency created
effective July 1, 1991. See
Section 1355 et seq. of Title 22 of the
The Oklahoma Defense System is appointed by the courts to represent all adult and juvenile indigents in 75 counties who are charged in felony, misdemeanor, and traffic cases punishable by incarceration. The System is appointed by the courts to represent all adult and juvenile indigents in 75 counties where the State is seeking the death penalty. The System does not represent defendants charged with the death penalty in Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties.
Upon conviction, the System is appointed by the courts to represent defendants on direct appeal to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals and, in death penalty cases, in post-conviction proceedings before the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
The System is responsible for capital and non-capital direct appeals from judgments and sentences, including death sentences, imposed in 75 counties and in the remaining two counties, if 1) the indigent appellant was represented at trial by retained counsel, or 2) by court-appointed counsel other than the county public defender, or 3) where the county defender has a conflict of interest on appeal. The System is responsible for all capital post-conviction appeals in the State, including those where the indigent appellant was represented by a county defender on direct appeal. However, Oklahoma Indigent Defense System does not handle non-capital post-conviction applications except in the rare circumstances when they are substantively related to an active trial-level or active appellate proceeding to which the System has been appointed [22 O.S. Sec. 1360(B)].
Effective July 1, 1996, the System does not handle civil juvenile proceedings such as juvenile deprived cases or termination of parental rights proceedings. See 10 O.S. Sec. 24.1(A). Nor has the System handled civil contempt of court cases since that date. See amendments to 22 O.S. Sec. 1355.6(A), effective July 1, 1996.
Effective May 7, 2003, the System does not accept conflict of interest trial level appointments from Oklahoma or Tulsa counties when the defendant is subject to the death penalty. See 2003 Okla. Sess. Law Serv., Ch. 200 (S.B. 772). If an appellate conflict of interest exists between the defendant and the county indigent defender in a case where the defendant has received the death penalty, the district court may appoint the agency to represent the defendant on appeal.
Indigent Defense Act,
Title 22 O.S., Sections 1355-1369.
This page last updated 10/19/2004 01:52 PM .