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OPD CASES

 

The OPD central offices, located in the Hughes Justice Complex in Trenton, house the Public Defender and Assistant Public Defenders, who coordinate work in the trial regions and the Appellate Section, as well as overseeing the special sections.

The current statewide staff includes attorneys, investigators, appellate attorneys and hundreds of support staff members. The Office also maintains a "pool" of private attorneys who can be called upon to accept cases that, because of conflicts or other reasons, staff attorneys cannot handle.

The Public Defender formulates overall policy and directs administration of all programs. Each regional office is headed by a deputy public defender, who supervises caseloads, maintains private-attorney pools and supervises reports to the main office on case dispositions. Assistant deputy public defenders, those who try the cases, are assigned to each region based on the caseload in that county. Along with many administrative duties, they interview witnesses, visit defendants who are incarcerated and render assistance in court.


Serving alongside the attorneys in each region is a corps of highly trained investigators, who often handle the interviewing of clients and witnesses. They also contribute to the cost-effectiveness of the office by providing in-house expertise on such things as polygraph tests, ballistics, fingerprinting and arson and narcotics investigations. Many are former police officers.


Despite having regional Public Defender staffs outnumbered by prosecutors' staffs by at least 2-to-one ratios in all 21 counties, the office has maintained consistently high case-disposition rates.