About Us

The Virginia Indigent Defense Commission (VIDC) was statutorily established in 2004, replacing the Public Defender Commission, to protect the Constitutional right to counsel for people who cannot afford to hire their own lawyer.

The VIDC oversees  25 public defender offices and four capital defender offices across Virginia with a central administrative office that certifies attorneys seeking appointments in criminal cases. In addition, the VIDC is responsible for the following:

  • Promulgate and enforce the mandatory Standards of Practice for Court-Appointed Counsel which sets out detailed expectations for attorneys seeking appointments in criminal cases;
  • Re-certify attorneys seeking appointments in criminal cases and maintain the certified counsel list; and
  • Develop certification training courses

The VIDC strives to provide high quality training to public defender offices and private court-appointed attorneys to continually improve criminal defense representation to vulnerable citizens of Virginia who are not able to hire an attorney of their choosing.

For more information, see VA Code § 19.2-163.01.

DEDICATED to protecting and defending the rights and dignity of our clients through zealous, compassionate, high quality legal advocacy.

DEDICATED to protecting and defending the rights and dignity of our clients through zealous, compassionate, high quality legal advocacy.

Public Defenders

The Commission provides training to its employed attorneys in a number of ways. Once a year, the Commission convenes a Public Defender Conference that provides six hours of training, including one hour of legal ethics. The Conference is held in Virginia and is staffed by high quality speakers and trainers who donate their time and expertise to improving the quality of Virginia’s indigent defense.

Private Bar

As a service to Virginia’s criminal defense bar, the VIDC also provides on-going training opportunities for members of the private bar. The Commission co-sponsors with the University of Richmond’s T.C. Williams School of Law an annual Juvenile Law and Education Conference. Commission staff also assists the Criminal Law Section of the Virginia Bar Association with the planning of Virginia’s annual Capital Defense Workshop. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia also offers at no cost advanced trial skills training for Virginia’s court appointed counsel. Finally, individual public defender offices sponsor training programs for office staff and members of local bar associations.

Support Staff

In order to assure the high quality of its non-attorney professional staff, the VIDC sponsors training conferences for its office managers, investigators and mitigation specialists. Finally, the Commission provides funding each year for attorneys, investigators, and mitigation specialists to attend specialized training sponsored by agencies or organizations outside of the VIDC.



Executive Director, David J. Johnson
Deputy Executive Director, Maria Jankowski
Chief Information Officer, Jason Hodges
Human Resources Director, Donna Moore
Budget and Finance Director, Denise Sandlin

2017 VIDC COMMISSION MEMBERS (Appointing Authority)

Judge Alan E. Rosenblatt (ret.) , (Senate Committee On Rules, Chairman of VIDC)
Steven D. Benjamin , (Senate Committee On Rules)
Henry Chambers , (Governor)
John G. Douglass , (Virginia State Bar)
Carolyn Grady , (Virginia State Bar)
Karl R. Hade , (Statute/Exec Sec Supreme Court)
Judge Edward W. Hanson, Jr. (ret.) , (Senate Committee On Rules)
James Hingeley , (Governor)
Guy W. Horsley, Jr. , (Speaker of the House)
Kristen Howard , (Designee, Crime Commission)
Delegate Christopher E. Collins , (House Courts of Justice)
Senator Richard Stuart , (Statute, Senate Courts of Justice Chair)
David D. Walker , (Speaker of House)
Carmen B. Williams , (Speaker of House)