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The Public Defender’s offices represent all those charged with criminal offences who are not in a position to acquire an attorney. The agency is appointed by the court to represent impecunious individuals incapable of affording legal services and accused of punishable crimes. The Office of the Public Defender is a product of the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution which advocates for the right to legal counsel and subjection to a fair legal trial. Established in 1963, the agency of the Public Defender’s office is currently headed by Julianne M. Holt. It is the largest criminal defense firm in HillsboroughCounty in terms of cases involved and the staff employed. The firm handles serious cases whose sentences range from one year to death penalty in its Felony Bureau. The agency also embraces the philosophy of teaching individuals on how to acquire their basic needs to become productive in the society (Annual Report, 2010). The state agency relentlessly serves the community with the goal of attaining justice and fair trial. The office of the Public Defender also plays significant roles in education, public safety and intervention strategies such as rehabilitation and fresh placements. Justice has been delivered to many regardless of nationality, sex, race or socio-economic status.
The Office of the Public Defender’s mission is to be committed to providing all of its clients and employees as well as the general public and community with efficient legal representation based on dignity and respect. This commitment is guided by the core values of integrity, fiscal responsibility, compassion and respect, efficiency, duty and loyalty and quality and excellence.
The major challenge in service provision in the agency is the workload. With a staff of two hundred, the firm represented 48,713 clients in 76,058 different cases in the year 2006 alone. With the allocation of financial resources, the agency was funded at an approximate of $181 per appointed case. Furthermore, agency’s competing needs of recruitment, salaries, court reporting services, telecommunications, travel, community service and case-related costs pose financial pressure.
The benefits of working in the Office of the Public Defender include life and health insurance and retirement benefits. In addition, the staff gets to enjoy sick leave and vacation time amounting to thirteen working days per year. Each employee is also entitled to twelve paid holidays every year and an additional personal holiday at their convenience.
The intervention strategies as applied by the agency vary depending on individual cases. When one is charged with a crime, the office of the public defender takes up the responsibility of representing the individual in court. The Office of the Public Defender is a firm believer in the values in law where an individual is innocent until proven guilty. With this foundation, the staff relentlessly works towards the success of a case. Additionally, the agency applies follow-up strategies that seek to assess the improvement of those who were previously charged (Annual Report, 2005). Through successful community partnership services, the agency follows up and assists all clients in complying with established court orders and rehabilitation of cases to prevent the reoccurrence of crimes.
The Office of the Public Defender serves all those who are in need of defense services regardless of color, race or age. Legal representation by the firm is a commitment that surpasses all possible barriers. The office, therefore, represents individuals from all cultural groups. Similarly, follow-up activities are also offered to all individuals regardless of their cultural background. The activities include assistance to acquire housing, treatment and rehabilitation services, jobs and counseling/ therapy (Annual Report, 2010).
The agency firmly believes in equal opportunities for all. With this premise, the actions of the agency to the employment opportunities reflect pure merit rather than discrimination. In the achievement of the agency’s mission and vision, the recruitment and hiring of qualified staff is an essential function. The Office of the Public Defender has a pool of two hundred employees. The legal employed staff includes attorneys, legal secretaries, legal interns and investigators. Professionals from other disciplines include social services coordinators, administrative staff and customer service technicians. The human resource department is responsible for the recruitment, training and orientation of new staff in the agency.
With the agency’s mission statement as my motivation towards ensuring justice and fairness, the Office of the Public Defender is an environment I would love to work in. However, I seek clarification in the academic and professional qualifications that would enable me to offer my services in the agency. Furthermore, what success factors are employed by the staff to ensure that the workload is well-managed and the success of every case that is handled by the office either in court as the actual cases or as follow-up activities?