News & Updates

Council on Public Defense Statement on Workloads During the Pandemic
February 2, 2022 | Alison Pagan

Council on Public Defense Statement on Workloads: The WSBA Board of Governors adopted the Council on Public Defense’s Statement on Workloads During the Pandemic on January 13, 2022.  The statement makes clear that “open caseloads – in both number and complexity – now make demands that even experienced defenders sometimes cannot meet. When workload exceeds an attorney’s capacity, then public defense attorneys and offices can request funding to hire additional attorneys, decline appointment to new cases, and work with others in the legal system to divert and/or reduce the number of cases in the system.”

Click here to read the Council on Public Defense Statement on Workloads During the Pandemic. 


Implementation of the Standards for Indigent Defense during the Coronavirus Emergency: The WSBA Council on Public Defense has issued an advisory regarding the impact of COVID on public defense caseload standards. While not promulgating a new rule, the WSBA encourages attorneys and contracting agencies to reduce caseloads when there is a surge of cases beyond normal expectation or when there is an increase of complex or serious cases which demand additional time from the attorney in order to provide effective assistance of counsel. Each attorney is encouraged to routinely evaluate their caseload to determine their capacity to provide quality representation. When an attorney raises caseload concerns (with supervisors, contractors, or judicial officers) the attorney’s representations are presumed to be correct and the caseload should be adjusted.


Council on Public Defense’s independence of public proposal and COVID advisory adopted by the BOG: The Council on Public Defense’s proposal for independence and advisory notice on COVID has been approved by the WSBA’s Board of Governors. The next stop for these changes will be the Washington Supreme Court for approval. Click to review the proposal and the advisory notice. Special thank you to CPD and all their hard work around public defense!


Emergency Court Rule Amending Standards for Public Defense: As a response to the lack of trial practice due to restrictions relating to COVID, the Council on Public Defense requested that the Washington State Supreme Court temporarily suspend Standard 14.2(E)(iii), and allow alternate means to gain experience to practice in Superior Court. The order was approved in January, but has only just been shared with us. The temporary modifications will remain in effect until the termination of the state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.