Office of the Defender General

For at least 135 years Vermont has recognized that equality is crucial to criminal justice and provided legal counsel to the indigent. In 1972 a statewide system of public defense was created: the Office of the Defender General

There are two criteria for services: need; and seriousness of the charge. Need is based on federal poverty guidelines; copayments may apply. Defendants must be charged with felonies, misdemeanors subject to imprisonment or fine of $1,000 or more. Acts by juveniles that would be considered serious crimes if committed by adults, also qualify.

The Defender General has 50 attorneys — 33 staff and 17 contract — in 12 regional offices. If there is a conflict, legal or ethical, the case is assigned to an attorney under contract or an outside lawyer.

In 2007, the Defender General:
• defended 2,007 juveniles and 12,309 adults
• contracted with assigned counsel to represent approximately 5,700 clients
• accrued $636,915 to the Public Defender Special Fund in copayments 
• managed approximately 100 contract attorneys

Employees: 66 positions (33 public defenders,
15 secretaries, 11 investigators, 6 administrators,
1 paralegal)

Fiscal Year 2007 Expenditures: $9,790,188
(92 percent personal services, 8 percent operating expenses*)

Fiscal Year 2007 Revenues: $9,790,188
(92 percent General Fund, 6 percent Special Funds,
2 percent other*)

* Combined budgets, Public Defense and Assigned Counsel sections.

Sources: Office of the Defender General, Act 27 of The Vermont General Assembly 1872

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