2-15-1028. Public defender commission. (1) There is a public defender commission.
(2) The commission consists of 11 members appointed by the governor as follows:
(a) two attorneys from nominees submitted by the supreme court;
(b) three attorneys from nominees submitted by the president of the state bar of Montana, as follows:
(i) one attorney experienced in the defense of felonies who has served a minimum of 1 year as a full-time public defender;
(ii) one attorney experienced in the defense of juvenile delinquency and abuse and neglect cases involving the federal Indian Child Welfare Act; and
(iii) one attorney who represents criminal defense lawyers;
(c) two members of the general public who are not attorneys or judges, active or retired, as follows:
(i) one member from nominees submitted by the president of the senate; and
(ii) one member from nominees submitted by the speaker of the house;
(d) one person who is a member of an organization that advocates on behalf of indigent persons;
(e) one person who is a member of an organization that advocates on behalf of a racial minority population in Montana;
(f) one person who is a member of an organization that advocates on behalf of people with mental illness and developmental disabilities; and
(g) one person who is employed by an organization that provides addictive behavior counseling.
(3) A person appointed to the commission must have significant experience in the defense of criminal or other cases subject to the provisions of Title 47, chapter 1, or must have demonstrated a strong commitment to quality representation of indigent defendants.
(4) A vacancy on the commission must be filled in the same manner as the original appointment and in a timely manner.
(5) Members shall serve staggered 3-year terms.
(6) (a) The commission is allocated to the department of administration for administrative purposes only, as provided in 2-15-121, except that:
(i) the commission shall hire staff for the commission subject to subsection (6)(b) and the chief public defender shall hire separate staff for the office, except for any support staff provided by the department of administration for centralized services, such as payroll, human resources, accounting, information technology, or other services determined by the commission and the department to be more efficiently provided by the department; and
(ii) commission and office of state public defender budget requests prepared and presented to the legislature and the governor in accordance with 17-7-111 must be prepared and presented independently of the department of administration. However, nothing in this subsection (6)(a)(ii) prohibits the department from providing administrative support for the budgeting process and including the budget requests in appropriate sections of the department's budget requests for administratively attached agencies.
(b) New staff positions for the commission may be added only when the public defender account established pursuant to 47-1-110 has received sufficient revenue pursuant to 46-18-113(1)(a) and (1)(b) to maintain a balance in the account that would sustain any staff position approved by the commission for at least 1 year.
(7) While serving a term on the commission, a member of the commission may not serve as a judge, a public defender employed by or under contract with the office of state public defender established in 47-1-201, a county attorney or a deputy county attorney, the attorney general or an assistant attorney general, the United States district attorney or an assistant United States district attorney, or a law enforcement official.
(8) Members of the commission may not receive a salary for service on the commission but must be reimbursed for expenses, as provided in 2-18-501 through 2-18-503, while actually engaged in the discharge of official duties.
(9) The commission shall establish procedures for the conduct of its affairs and elect a presiding officer from among its members.
History: En. Sec. 5, Ch. 449, L. 2005; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 344, L. 2011.