The Office of the Ohio Public Defender is the state agency responsible for providing legal representation and other services to those accused of a crime who cannot afford to hire their own attorney. The United States Constitution and the Ohio Constitution guarantee the right to an attorney, because an attorney is needed to protect an individual’s rights and to present the evidence necessary for a fair and reliable determination of guilt or innocence. The Office of the Ohio Public Defender is critical to the fairness of the criminal justice system: the quality of justice the person receives should not be determined by the person’s financial status.
Ohio’s public defender system was created in 1976 by Chapter 120 of the Ohio Revised Code. Timothy Young is the Director of the Office of the Ohio Public Defender, which is overseen by the nine-member Ohio Public Defender Commission. The Office is divided into Death Penalty, Legal, Juvenile, and Administrative divisions, as well as the Trumbull County Branch Office and the Multi-County Program.
The focus of the Office of the Ohio Public Defender is on the appeals and post-trial activities of death penalty and other criminal and juvenile delinquency cases. The Office also offers representation at trial when requested by the courts, as well as at parole and probation revocation hearings for the more than 50,000 people in Ohio’s prisons. Other services include technical assistance, research services, educational programs, investigation and mitigation services, and assistance to court-appointed attorneys throughout the state.
State Public Defender Tim Young and the Ohio Public Defender Commission are fully committed to improving Ohio’s indigent defense system. Working with local public defenders, courts, and county commissioners, as well as state leaders and organizations, the Office of the Ohio Public Defender strives to change laws, rules, and practices in order to provide a more effective and efficient indigent defense delivery system.