Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy

Kentucky Public Defender Cases before the U.S. Supreme Court

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Funding additional public defenders makes good business sense

Statement from Public Advocate Ed Monahan:

I am grateful to our Governor for his leadership that will allow our public defenders to meet their important professional responsibilities in representing poor citizens accused of a crime, and that continues funding of our alternative sentencing workers to reduce addictions.

More public defender capacity at the start of cases is very smart because it allows defenders to spend adequate time on their cases sooner. This capacity will resolve cases quicker and more reliably. It will reduce frustrations of victims, judges, prosecutors. It will increase the public confidence in our criminal justice system, and it will save counties substantial funding spent on jails because the cases will proceed to conclusion.

An additional 44 defenders will reduce average caseloads of public defenders from 514 cases handled in a year to 395 cases. In addition to increasing the efficiency of our criminal justice system, this will allow people to receive the representation our sacred constitution guarantees.  

Funding additional public defenders is a prudent, wise, smart investment that will return real, ongoing dividends.  The beneficiaries will be victims, judges, prosecutors, the public and our public safety.

The value of the funding provided in SB192’s

Heroin Bill alternative sentencing worker program is significant.

The alternative sentencing worker program is a proven way to address substance abuse issues by providing defense-generated alternatives to incarceration through cost-effective, individualized community-based treatment plans that provide positive reinforcement when the inevitable relapse comes so we really help our neighbors break their addictions. This is a unique, award-winning, nationally recognized high value program broadly supported by judges, prosecutors, jailers and Kentucky’s Office of Drug  Control Policy.

DPA In the News

The Department of Public Advocacy has moved to:


I-64 East
Take exit 58 from I-64 E onto US 60E / Versailles Road
Take your first right onto KY-1681 / Duncan Lane
Turn right on Mill Creek Park (entrance to complex)
Take your first right in the complex
You will see the Department of Public Advocacy directly in front of you
Additional parking is located behind the building

I-64 West
Take exit 58 from I-64 W
Turn left onto US-60/Versailles Road
Take your first right onto KY-1681 / Duncan Lane
Turn right on Mill Creek Park (entrance to complex)
Take your first right in the complex
You will see the Department of Public Advocacy directly in front of you
Additional parking is located behind the building

The Advocate


  • Costs of Relying Upon Incarceration or Standard Term of Probation for the Young Adult Population
  • Personal Cost of Reliance Upon Incarceration as Primary Strategy for Keeping the Public Safe
  • What Makes Sense for Kentucky?



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Our Mission

To provide each client with high quality services through an effective delivery system, which ensures a defender staff dedicated to the interests of their clients and the improvement of the criminal justice system. The Department of Public Advocacy is an independent agency attached for administrative purposes to the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet headed by John Tilley, Secretary. DPA is the statewide public agency providing public defender service in all of Kentucky's 120 counties as will as Kentucky's appellate courts.

History of the DPA

A half century ago the Kentucky Supreme Court held that "common justice demands" that an attorney must be appointed when a person charged with a felony is too poor to hire his own counsel. Gholson v. Commonwealth, 212 S.W.2d 537 (Ky. 1948). In the 1960s Kentucky attorneys began to request compensation when they were forced to represent indigents charged with a crime. In 1963, the United States Supreme Court determined that if a state wants to take away a person's liberty, it has to provide an attorney to those persons too poor to hire their own in order to comply with the Federal Constitution. Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963). While consistently unsuccessful in convincing Kentucky's highest Court that the judiciary could and should order payment, Kentucky's appointed attorneys did persuade the Kentucky Supreme Court to the point that the Court began to directly encourage the General Assembly to provide a systematic solution for paying the attorneys who were being made to represent the accused. On September 22, 1972, Kentucky's highest Court characterized the forced representation of indigents as an "intolerable condition" and held it was an unconstitutional taking of an attorney's property - his service to the client - without compensation. From then on no Kentucky attorney could be required to represent an indigent absent compensation. Bradshaw v. Ball, 487 S.W.2d 294 (Ky. 1972). While the appeal in Bradshaw was pending, the 1972 Legislature, at the request of Governor Wendell Ford, created the Office of Public Defender, now the Department of Public Advocacy (DPA), and gave it the responsibility to represent all persons in Kentucky charged with or convicted of a crime. House Bill 461 sponsored by Representatives Kenton, Graves and Swinford passed the House 60-18 on March 7, 1972 and the Senate 26-5 on March 14, 1972. It allocated $1,287,000 for FY 73 and FY 74.


See Also...
  CLE Opportunities for Criminal Defense Bar
Conferences, live distance learning, and recorded online distances learning from the DPA's Kentucky Public Defender College.



Department of Public Advocacy
5 Mill Creek Park
Frankfort, KY 40601

(502) 564-8006 - Phone
(502) 695-6767 - Fax

DPA Map and Directions

Field Office Contact Information

Last Updated 2/9/2016