SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon has only roughly one-third of the public defense attorneys it needs to provide reasonably effective assistance to low-income defendants, a committee of the American Bar Association and a major accounting firm said in a report released Friday.
“We all need to recognize that the gap between what we are currently providing and what this report reflects that we should be providing is vast,” said Steve Singer, executive director of the Oregon Office of Public Defense Services.
The researchers found that Oregon only has 31% of the attorneys it needs to provide reasonably effective assistance of counsel for adult and juvenile defendants.
The Oregon Office of Public Defense Services also has significant data deficiencies that prevent the agency from providing meaningful oversight, said the researchers, who recommended that the state invest in a centralized data system for all public defense attorneys.
The Oregon Project report was requested and financed by the Legislature and was conducted over two years by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense and accounting firm Moss Adams LLP.