Montana Office of the State Public Defender

Senate Endorses Study Of Public Defender's Office

Apr 14, 2015
William Marcus

Today at the Montana Legislature, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass a bill that would create a two-year study on the Office of the State Public Defender. This year, legislators discussed, and argued about what to do with this office, which is meant to provide lawyers for those who can’t afford their own in criminal cases.

Senate Committee Restores Some Funding Cut By House

Apr 3, 2015
William Marcus

The Senate Finance and Claims Committee added about $55 million of general fund dollars back into the state budget. That’s according to preliminary figures from the Legislative Fiscal Division.

Not quite half of that amount was to cover cost over-runs in the current biennium.

This year’s cost overruns total about $31 million.

The state’s Chief Public Defender says workloads for public defense attorneys have improved due to financial help from the Montana Legislature. However, Bill Hooks said his office still needs more help.

The 2013 Legislature gave the public defender’s office *$1.2 million in new money for employee raises, which Hooks said has been very helpful.

"We were able to bring our attorney salaries more in line with what our colleagues were getting in other courts throughout the state,” Hooks said. “So I think that was a significant improvement and we're very appreciative of that.”