SALEM, Oregon (AP) — Oregon's Chief Justice Wednesday decreed all members of the committee governing the agency due to personality conflicts. Appoint the Director General of the Public Defense Agency who denies dismissing the
For years, critics said that Oregon's public defense system was in jeopardy, with too few lawyers to defend those accused of crimes.
Chief Justice Martha Walters last week accused Executive Director Steven Singer of verbally attacking her during a meeting and failing to get his agency out of trouble.
Last week, the Defense Commission decided not to remove Singer. Walters then took the unprecedented step of dismissing all nine voting members of the committee on Monday, calling on those who wanted the rest to reapply, five of whom were hers. were reinstated and four new members were appointed.
Former committee member Thomas Christ said that Walters wanted Singer removed and that she "decided to fill the committee with people who would vote as she wanted on the issue." Christ was among those fired Monday and not reelected.
The American Bar Association found that he had only 31 percent of the public defenders needed in Oregon. Hundreds of defendants who could not afford lawyers were unable to obtain one.
Walters is an ex-officio permanent, non-voting member of the Committee. At the reconstituted committee's first meeting on Wednesday, Walters said:
"I know some people are emotional," said Walters, she said. "And there have been accusations and suggestions that it was a conflict of personalities that drove my decision. It is counterproductive and must be stopped." We entered an executive meeting to review the discipline of civil servants or listen to complaints, review and evaluate the (singer's) performance.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that Walters described Singer as unreliable, unnecessarily belligerent, and slow to respond to the state's public defense crisis. increase. While others in the public defense community defend Singer as a leader committed to reforming a broken system, they also acknowledge that he can be honed.
Oregon's public defender system is the only system in the country that is completely dependent on contractors. A large non-profit legal team, a small cooperative group of privately held cases, and independent lawyers who are free to take cases.
However, some corporate and private attorneys routinely refuse to accept new cases because of their heavy workload. It's something to remove.
A criminal defendant in Oregon, who lost legal representation due to a lack of public defenders, filed a lawsuit in May and said the state would receive an attorney and a speedy trial. claimed to have violated the rights of