Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy

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

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Justice & Public Safety Cabinet

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The KY Criminal Justice Council met Wednesday September 16, 2016.  The Council heard from many criminal justice leaders including corrections, prosecutors, KACDL and defenders. Public Advocate Ed Monahan presented 10 common sense ways to safely save corrections costs starting 2016 along with information about criminal justice facts, click here for the entire PowerPoint, including the following:


Members of the KY Criminal Justice Counsel




The Advocate

Advocate Newsletter June 2015


• Summary of 2015 Heroin Bill
• Summary of 2015 Criminal Law Legislation
• DNA Evidence: An Expansion of the Kentucky Open Records Act
• Two New Batson Cases - summary
• The Next Step: Six Common Sense Proposals to Save While Holding Offenders Accountable and Protecting the Public
• Call to End Predatory Collection Practices

Reading The Advocate is now more convenient than ever! In addition to our published version, the DPA is now offering a regularly-updated digital version. The Advocate Online You are now leaving the domain is a vital source of information for:

• Legislative news and updates
• Summaries of Kentucky Supreme Court and Court of Appeals criminal opinions
• And much more!

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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 J. Michael Brown, 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
200 Fair Oaks Lane
Suite 500
Frankfort, KY 40601

(502) 564-8006 - Phone
(502) 564-7890 - Fax

DPA Map and Directions

Field Office Contact Information

Last Updated 10/7/2015