Statutory AuthorityVirginia Code § 19.2-163.01 requires the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission to compile and maintain a list of attorneys qualified to represent accused persons who are in need of criminal indigent defense services.
UNDER CODE OF VIRGINIA, §19.2-163.01, THE COMMISSION SHALL HAVE THE FOLLOWING POWERS AND DUTIES
- To publicize and enforce the qualification standards for attorneys seeking eligibility to serve as court-appointed counsel for indigent defendants pursuant to § 19.2-159.
- To develop initial training courses for attorneys who wish to begin serving as court-appointed counsel, and to review and certify legal education courses that satisfy the continuing requirements for attorneys to maintain their eligibility for receiving court appointments.
- To maintain a list of attorneys admitted to practice law in Virginia who are qualified to serve as court-appointed counsel for indigent defendants based upon the official standards and to disseminate the list by July 1 of each year and updates throughout the year to the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court for distribution to the courts. In establishing and updating the list, the Commission shall consider all relevant factors, including but not limited to, the attorney’s background, experience, and training and the Commission’s assessment of whether the attorney is competent to provide quality legal representation.
- To establish official standards of practice for court-appointed counsel and public defenders to follow in representing their clients, and guidelines for the removal of an attorney from the official list of those qualified to receive court appointments and to notify the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of any attorney whose name has been removed from the list.
- To develop initial training courses for public defenders and to review and certify legal education courses that satisfy the continuing requirements for public defenders to maintain their eligibility.
- To periodically review and report to the Virginia State Crime Commission, the House Committee for Courts of Justice, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, the House Committee on Appropriations, and the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations on the caseload handled by each public defender office.
- To maintain all public defender offices established by the General Assembly.
- To hire and employ and, at its pleasure, remove an executive director, counsel, and such other persons as it deems necessary, and to authorize the executive director to appoint, after prior notice to the Commission, a deputy director, and for each of the above offices a public defender who shall devote his full time to his duties and not engage in the private practice of law.
- To authorize the public defender to employ such assistants as authorized by the Commission.
- To authorize the public defender to employ such staff, including secretarial and investigative personnel, as may be necessary to carry out the duties imposed upon the public defender office.
- To authorize the executive director of the Commission, in consultation with the public defender to secure such office space as needed, to purchase or rent office equipment, to purchase supplies and to incur such expenses as are necessary to carry out the duties imposed upon him.
- To approve requests for appropriations and receive and expend moneys appropriated by the General Assembly of Virginia, to receive other moneys as they become available to it and expend the same in order to carry out the duties imposed upon it.
- To require and ensure that each public defender office collects and maintains caseload data and fields in a case management database on an annual basis.
- To report annually on or before October 1 to the Virginia State Crime Commission, the House Committee for Courts of Justice, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, the House Committee on Appropriations, and the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations on the state of indigent criminal defense in the Commonwealth, including Virginia’s ranking amongst the 50 states in terms of pay allowed for court-appointed counsel appointed pursuant to § 19.2-159 or subdivision C 2 of § 16.1-266.
MISDEMEANOR, FELONY AND JUVENILE CERTIFICATION QUALIFICATIONS
§ 19.2-163.03. Qualifications for court-appointed counsel.
NOTE: For Juvenile case requirements, VIDC will only approve cases in which the attorney was involved from the beginning of the case to its final resolution. The attorney must represent a juvenile defendant. A case may be deemed to be concluded for purpose of certification once deferred disposition is entered. Post trial matters such as probation violations and failing to comply will not qualify. NOTE: For the purposes of the certification requirements, “Co-Counsel” participates with lead counsel in every critical aspect of the representation of the defendant. Co-counsel is not necessarily counsel of record.B. Requalification requirements. After initially qualifying as provided in subsection A, an attorney shall maintain his eligibility for certification biennially by notifying the Commission of completion of at least eight hours of Commission and MCLE-approved continuing legal education, two of which shall cover the representation of individuals with behavioral or mental health disorders and individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities as defined in § 37.2-100. The Commission shall provide information on continuing legal education programs that have been approved. In addition, to maintain eligibility to accept court appointments under subdivision C 2 of § 16.1-266, an attorney shall complete biennially thereafter four additional hours of MCLE-approved continuing legal education on representing juveniles, certified by the Commission. C. Waiver and exceptions. The Commission or the court before which a matter is pending, may, in its discretion, waive the requirements set out in this section for individuals who otherwise demonstrate their level of training and experience. A waiver of such requirements pursuant to this subsection shall not form the basis for a claim of error at trial, on appeal, or in any habeas corpus proceeding.
PUBLIC DEFENDER OFFICES
§ 19.2-163.04. Public defender offices.
- The City of Virginia Beach;
- The City of Petersburg;
- The Cities of Buena Vista, Lexington, Staunton, and Waynesboro and the Counties of Augusta and Rockbridge;
- The City of Roanoke;
- The City of Portsmouth;
- The City of Richmond;
- The Counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah, and Warren, and the City of Winchester;
- The City and County of Fairfax;
- The City of Alexandria;
- The City of Radford and the Counties of Bland, Pulaski, and Wythe;
- The Counties of Fauquier, Loudoun, and Rappahannock;
- The City of Suffolk;
- The City of Franklin and the Counties of Isle of Wight and Southampton;
- The County of Bedford;
- The City of Danville;
- The Counties of Halifax, Lunenburg, and Mecklenburg;
- The City of Fredericksburg and the Counties of King George, Stafford, and Spotsylvania;
- The City of Lynchburg;
- The City of Martinsville and the Counties of Henry and Patrick;
- The City of Charlottesville and the County of Albemarle;
- The City of Norfolk;
- The County of Arlington and the City of Falls Church;
- The City of Newport News;
- The City of Chesapeake;
- The City of Hampton;
- The Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park and the County of Prince William; and
- The County of Chesterfield.