Senator Ellis Press Release

For Immediate Release
September 29, 2009
Contact: Tina Tran, (512) 463-0113

Harris County Commissioners OK Public Defender

(Houston, TX) — Harris County Commissioners approved the creation of a public defenders office at today's mid-year review hearing. The decision came after both the District Courts Administrator and the County Courts Manager recommended its creation. The plan to create a public defender office with divisions in appellate, felony trial, juvenile, and mental health will now be sent to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council for implementation.

"I want to commend Judge Emmett and the commissioners for unanimously voting to do the right thing for Harris County. Until today, Harris County was the only urban area of its size without a public defender office. Today, we can say that we're taking a significant step towards following best practice models that are both economical and smart on crime," said Senator Ellis. "I look forward to working closely with the Council to implement a plan that is efficient and ensures that indigent defendants are receiving quality representation." Ellis began urging for the creation of the office in early 2008.

The commissioners court unanimously voted to study the feasibility of a public defender office back in April 2008.