Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I obtain a Court-Appointed Attorney? The decision as to
whether a person qualifies for a Public Defender is made by the Judges of each
of the specific Courts. A number of factors are considered including a person’s
income, what if any assets such as houses and vehicles which they own and also
taking into account any expenses they have including care of their children.
The decision is made on a case by case basis taking into account a person’s
overall financial situation along with the seriousness of the alleged crime.
The Public Defender Agency has limited authority to appoint itself and this
should be done through the Courts. In the event that you desire a Public
Defender, you should either inform the Court at your next Court appearance or
write to the Court making that request.
2. Who may talk to a Public Defender about an individual’s case? Because
of ethical and office considerations, the Public Defender will normally only
speak to their client in regards to their case. This is essential in order to
protect the attorney/client privilege. Family members and friends, even those
who the client has stated may talk with the attorney, will not be spoken to
unless that person is a witness or can supply pertinent information. The
attorney assigned to the case may talk to other individuals, but will not
discuss specifics of the case with any one other than the client.
3. How do I schedule an appointment? An appointment may be scheduled by
contacting the Public Defenders’ office and setting up an appointment time.
Appointments can also be scheduled telephonically during the normal working
business hours of the Public Defenders’ office which is from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00
p.m. An individual should not arrive at the Public Defenders’ office in hopes
to speak with their attorney. Because of scheduling, the attorney may not be in
the office or may be scheduled to handle other matters. The client should also
come alone to the appointment. These conferences are very important and small
children can deter one’s concentration of their case at hand.
4. Are the Public Defenders simply another part of the State and therefore
they do not represent their client’s adequately? Each Public Defender is
licensed through the State of Indiana and has taken an oath to uphold the
United States Constitution, the State of Indiana Constitution and to abide by
their ethical obligations to represent their client. Further, the Noble County
Public Defenders’ Agency is an independently operated agency and there only
connection to the State is through their funding. For that reason, the
attorneys will follow their constitutional and ethical obligations and are not
agents of the State.
4. Can we pay our Public Defender money for doing their job? ABSOLUTELY
NOT. All of the Public Defenders are paid for their services through their
contractual relationship with the Noble County Public Defenders’ Agency. They
cannot and will not take any monies for their representation since they are
already for those services and it would be an ethical violation to do so.