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It is with great pleasure that the State Public Defense Commission (PDC) announces the selection of its new Executive Director, Kathleen J. Elliott, effective December 17, 2018. Kathleen succeeds Kimberly Simmons who became the Executive Director in May 2016 and leaves the PDC for the state of Colorado.

Kathleen joins the PDC with over 25 years of criminal and public defense experience at both the state and federal level in Idaho. She has represented criminal defendants throughout Idaho in both rural and urban areas on charges ranging from minor traffic violations to capital crimes. In addition to her extensive work as both a public defender and private criminal defense attorney, her experience includes working with stakeholders to find solutions to systemic problems. She has been a county Public Defender, Criminal Justice Act (CJA) attorney and the CJA District Representative where she worked with national leaders to address pay and resource issues facing the CJA attorneys. CJA attorneys are essentially the federal equivalent of state-level contract public defenders. Due to her efforts, there were substantial improvements made to the CJA program to help ensure constitutional representation of criminal defendants.

Kathleen is a member of the American Bar Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Idaho Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She has taught trial advocacy at the University of Idaho College of Law and has presented continuing legal education programs to colleagues on a wide variety of topics including forensic science in the courtroom, defending drug cases, collateral consequences of criminal convictions and criminal procedure. Her colleagues describe Kathleen as engaging, warm, compassionate, supportive and insightful. Several defense attorneys in Idaho consider her a mentor and advisor, crediting her with some of their own success.

Please join us in welcoming Kathleen Elliott to the PDC. With the arrival of the new ED, the PDC ensures its stakeholders that its mission and core values will remain the same. The PDC strives to work collaboratively with counties, attorneys, legislators, judges and all stakeholders to help ensure constitutional representation of Idaho’s indigent defendants can be achieved and sustained.

Comment Period Open for Comments on Proposed Rules

PDC staff facilitated public hearings for accepting rulemaking comments in each of the seven judicial districts between October 15 and October 26. Many thanks to stakeholders who participated in the hearings, as well as the many stakeholders who participated in collaborative meetings held by the PDC’s Regional Coordinators in September and October. Substantial input and comments were received, and staff is busy compiling those comments to share with members of the PDC. Those summaries will also be posted on this website’s rulemaking page as soon as they are available.

The comment period for IDAPA 61.01.02 – Rules Governing Uniform Data Reporting Requirements and Forms for Defending Attorneys; IDAPA 61.01.03 – Rules Governing Contracts and Core Requirements for Contracts between Counties and Private Attorneys for the Provision of Indigent Defense and IDAPA 61.01.08 – Standards for Defending Attorneys, Principle III: Workload Standard is STILL OPENComments will be accepted via mail, email, personal delivery or fax through the close of business on Friday, November 9, 2018.

Negotiated Rulemaking Meetings

The PDC is currently engaged in the creation of new rules and standards. A part of that process is negotiating the content of those rules and standards with various stakeholders. Throughout June, the PDC held negotiated rulemaking meetings in each of the seven judicial districts in Idaho. The PDC thanks the approximately 75 stakeholders who participated in the meetings. These were the best attended meetings the PDC has ever held. As we see this as a collaborative process, the PDC truly appreciates the participation and believes the only way to create rules and standards fit for Idaho is through collaboration. The PDC looks forward to receiving additional feedback over the next few months as we begin to draft the following rules and standards:

IDAPA 61.01.08 – Standards for Defending Attorneys, Principle III: Workload standard;

IDAPA 61.01.02 – Rules Governing Uniform Data Reporting Requirements and Forms for Defending Attorneys; and

IDAPA 61.01.03 – Rules Governing Contracts and Core Requirements for Contracts between Counties and Private Attorneys for the Provision of Indigent Defense.

For more information regarding these rules and to view the rulemaking record online, click here: Negotiated Rulemaking Page

To submit feedback, comments or questions, or contact PDC staff, click here: Contact Information

PDC Approves Attorneys for the Capital Counsel Roster

The Capital Counsel Roster is a list of all attorneys who have applied to and subsequently been approved by the PDC for representing indigent defendants in capital cases and designates each attorney’s possible role as lead counsel, co-counsel or appellate/post-conviction counsel. These attorneys have met specific standards for education and experience, as required by IDAPA, Standards For Defending Attorneys, edition 2017. The PDC Capital Counsel Roster went into effect on May 1, 2018.

The PDC approved the first 17 attorneys for its Capital Counsel Roster on June 20, 2018. Attorneys currently on the Idaho Supreme Court Roster who have not yet applied, as well as other attorneys interested in becoming approved, are invited to apply to the PDC for inclusion on the Capital Counsel Roster. The Idaho Supreme Court still maintains a Capital Counsel Roster and will do so through March 31, 2019. At that time, only those attorneys who have applied and been approved on the PDC Capital Counsel Roster will be eligible to represent indigent defendants for capital cases.

Public Defense Summit to be Held August 8-10

The Public Defense Commission is proud to announce that it has partnered with NACDL for the 2018 Idaho Public Defender Summit. The summit will be held August 8 – 10 at Concordia University School of Law in Boise.

August 8 and 9 will feature Advanced Advocacy Skills Training, including topics such as Developing Case Themes and Using Story Telling for Effective Advocacy, Emerging Issues Technology-Based Evidence: 4th Amendment and Evidentiary Challenges, and Cross-Examination: Witness Control and Effective Impeachment. The host of presenters include Deja Vishny, Bill Fitzsimmons, Guy Cardamone, Bonnie Hoffman and Travis Schwantes. Day two of the Summit offers the choice of attending a lecture on Digital Forensics and the 4th Amendment or a Voir Dire Workshop.

August 10, designed specifically for attorneys with five or fewer years of experience, will feature Skills Training and Practice for Developing Attorneys.

On Wednesday, August 8th the PDC will host a Public Defense Banquet where it will honor some of Idaho’s outstanding public defenders. An invitation to nominate Idaho Public Defenders for three new awards were emailed to members of the Public Defense Roster on Friday, July 6.

Interns Support the PDC

This summer the PDC is hosting interns Will Ranstrom and Zach Hope from Concordia University School of Law in Boise. Projects include research into maximum and minimum sentences for misdemeanants, resources for public defenders and prosecutors, a comparison of indigency applications from around the state, annual reports on crime, and more. We’re pleased to have Will and Zach on board and appreciate their hard work on behalf of public defense in Idaho.

PDC Appoints Six Defending Attorneys to New Capital Counsel Application Review Committee

The PDC, at its scheduled meeting on May 8, 2018, selected six attorneys to serve on the Capital Counsel Application Review Committee. Many thanks to all who applied. The PDC welcomes defending attorneys Tony Geddes, Marilyn Paul, Keith Roark, Shannon Romero, Anne Taylor and Ian Thomson to the CCAR Committee.

On May 1, 2018, the PDC’s rules including standards for capital counsel went into effect. As such, the PDC will maintain a roster of attorneys to handle cases in which the death penalty could be imposed. To be approved for the roster, defending attorneys must meet the qualifications outlined in Standards for Defending Attorneys, edition 2017, and submit an application to the PDC. The CCAR Committee will review applications and submit recommendation regarding approval/disapproval to the PDC for final approval. Please note that defending attorneys currently approved on the Idaho Supreme Court’s roster will be added to the PDC’s Capital Counsel roster and will have a period of two years to apply under the new qualifications established by the PDC.

Indigent Defense Grant Application Review is Underway

The PDC received Indigent Defense Grant Applications from 43 of Idaho’s 44 counties. Twenty-nine applications were reviewed at the PDC’s meeting on May 8, 2018, and the remaining fourteen will be reviewed at the Commission’s scheduled meeting on June 20, 1018. The Commission carefully reviews each county’s application and sometimes requests additional information to clarify plans for improving indigent defense. Idaho’s counties, collectively, could receive a total of up to $4.1 million in Indigent Defense Grant funds in 2019.

Idaho Association of Counties Annual Conference

The Public Defense Commission will participate in the upcoming Idaho Association of Counties Annual Conference on June 5 through June 7 in Moscow. PDC Executive Director Kimberly Simmons will give a presentation at the conference on Wednesday, June 6, to update IAC members on the mission and activities of the PDC, improvements counties have made to the indigent defense system, financial and technical assistance available from the PDC, and will review current and upcoming Indigent Defense Standards. PDC Northern Regional Coordinator Aaron Freudenthal will also be on hand to offer technical assistance and answer questions. Visit Aaron and Kimberly for good conversation and a piece of chocolate!

Thank you for visiting today. Please don’t hesitate to contact our office for additional information.

~Kelly Jennings, Deputy Director

The 2018 Legislative session was successful for the Idaho State Public Defense Commission. Our proposed budget, pending rules and proposed legislation were approved and passed. We presented to both Judiciary and Rules Committees on several occasions and to the Joint Finance and Appropriation Committee. This update summarizes the approved legislation and provides a short calendar of upcoming PDC events. Please feel free to contact the office or browse our website for additional information.

FY2019 PDC Budget

The PDC’s proposed budget included an additional $10,000 to cover travel and expenses for the new commission members and 3% merit-based salary increases as recommended by the Governor. FY2019 Indigent Defense Grants were appropriated to accommodate the maximum eligible amount for all 44 counties. The legislature appropriated $150,000 for joint incentive grants and over $423,000 for extraordinary litigation costs.

New and Amended Rules – Effective May 1, 2018

*New* IDAPA 61.0.06 – Rules Governing Procedures for the Oversight, Implementation, Enforcement, and Modification of Indigent Defense Standards

*Amended* IDAPA 61.01.07 – Rules Governing Standards for Defending Attorneys Utilizing Idaho’s Principles of an Indigent Defense Delivery System

*New* IDAPA 61.01.08 – Rules Governing the Administration of Idaho’s Indigent Defense Delivery Systems

*Amended* Standards for Defending Attorneys – 2017 edition

These rules are effective May 1 and compliance by ALL defending attorneys and counties is required, regardless of the decision to seek an indigent defense grant. The PDC may enforce the new and amended rules after March 31, 2019. Contact the office for a copy of these rules. They are currently posted on the website on the “Pending & Proposed Rules” page.

PDC Legislation – Effective July 1, 2018

Amendment to Idaho Code § 19-950(2)(e): Allows counties, through a Board of County Commissioners, to apply for extraordinary litigation funds (ELF). On July 1, the PDC will disburse ELF applications to the counties. These applications will provide counties the opportunity to apply for reimbursement of extraordinary litigation funds expended on indigent defense cases. ELF is available as appropriated by the legislature. Applications will first be reviewed to determine if the costs were in fact extraordinary, and second, if the funds are available for reimbursement.

Amendment to Idaho Code § 19-849(1): This amendment provides for two (2) additional commission members. On July 1, a new member representing the Idaho Association of Counties and a new member representing Idaho defending attorneys will be appointed by the Governor.

2018 PDC Calendar

  • April: Town Hall Meetings will be hosted in every Judicial District. Schedule can be found on the PDC website:
  • April 20-21: IdACDL Sun Valley Seminar. Sun Valley, ID.
  • May 1: Indigent Defense Grant Applications due to the PDC.
  • May 11-12: Conference for Juvenile Defenders. Boise, ID.
  • May 29: Live Webinar – Medically Records. Boise, ID.
  • June: Negotiated Rulemaking meetings will be held in every Judicial District. Schedule coming.
  • August 8-10: PD Summit and Trial School. Boise, ID.
  • October 1: Indigent Defense Grants disbursed as approved.
  • October: Public Hearings on proposed rules will be held in every Judicial District. Schedule will be published in September.
  • November 1: Annual Reports of Defending Attorneys due to the PDC.

Many thanks for defending attorneys who submitted Annual Reports by the statutory deadline of November 1, 2017. Regional Coordinators continue to follow up with defending attorneys regarding compilation of this important data. Attorney Annual Reports and county Indigent Defense Grant applications provide essential data to the PDC and are a cornerstone for the PDC’s statutorily-required annual report to the Legislature. That report, in turn, provides invaluable information for use in policy-making and budgeting decisions regarding public defense.

In October, the PDC held public hearings in each of the seven judicial districts regarding three proposed administrative rules and  Standards for Defending AttorneysEdition 2017. Written comments and a summary of oral comments received to date on IDAPA 61.01.06, New Chapter, Rules Governing Procedures for the Oversight, Implementation, Enforcement, and Modification of Indigent Defense Standards, IDAPA 61.01.07, Rules Governing Standards For Defending Attorneys, and IDAPA 61.01.08, New Chapter, Rules Governing the Administration of Idaho’s Indigent Defense Delivery Systems – Rule Definitions were compiled and shared with the Commission at its recent meeting on November 20. The comment period on closes at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 22, 2017, for IDAPA 61.01.08, and any additional comments will be shared with the PDC. The PDC voted on its final approval for rules on Monday, November 27, and all proposed rules have been forwarded to the Office of the Administrative Rules Coordinator.

Regional Coordinators continue to meet with stakeholders throughout the state. To date, each Board of County Commissioners and most elected Clerks in the state have met with the respective Regional Coordinator to discuss public defense. Regional Coordinators have also been visiting courthouses, observing hearings, and meeting with defending attorneys and prosecuting attorneys. Stakeholders continue to provide valuable input that is shared with the Public Defense Commission and Regional Coordinators are available to respond to questions and concerns regarding public defense.

In other news, Public Defense Commission Vice-Chair Eric Fredericksen, Executive Director Kimberly Simmons and Deputy Director Kelly Jennings attended the National Association for Public Defense Workloads Conference at Saint Louis University School of Law on November 17 and 18. All three attendees gained additional knowledge on workload-related issues facing public defense systems throughout the country. The final report for the Idaho workload study performed by Boise State University is expected to be complete prior to the Christmas holiday. It will be published on this website as soon as it is available.

We’re pleased you visited us today! Don’t hesitate to contact our office for additional information.

~Kelly Jennings, Deputy Director

The PDC is pleased to announce the winner of the trip to Hawaii is… MARK COPPIN, contract defending attorney in Jerome! Many thanks to all who participated in the three components of the workload study: timekeeping, the time sufficiency survey, and the Delphi panel. The time and expertise of all who contributed is invaluable. The Idaho Policy Institute at BSU is working on compiling the final report, which will be available by October 11, 2017.

Executive Director Kimberly Simmons was pleased to present at the Idaho Association of County Recorders and Clerks meeting in Salmon on August 16, accompanied by Regional Coordinator Jared Ricks. Many thanks to all who participated! The PDC looks forward to seeing many of the participants again at the IAC conference in Boise on September 25-27.

Publication of the PDC’s proposed rules takes place October 4, 2017, in the Idaho Administrative Bulletin for IDAPA 61.01.06, New Chapter, Rules Governing Procedures for the Oversight, Implementation, Enforcement, and Modification of Indigent Defense Standards and IDAPA 61.01.07, Rules Governing Standards For Defending Attorneys, with new standards proposed for investigation and the use of experts as well as standards for capital counsel. The PDC will hold hearings around the state to take comments on these rules during October—specific dates, times and locations will be posted soon. Click here to link to the Negotiated Rulemaking page and find more information.

We’re pleased you visited us today! Don’t hesitate to contact our office for additional information.

~Kelly Jennings, Deputy Director

Indigent Defense Grants

The PDC was pleased to receive FY2018 Indigent Defense Grant applications from forty-three of Idaho’s forty-four counties. At this writing, thirty-eight counties have been informed they’ll receive the maximum IDG amount available, for a total to date of $4,047,576.68, which will be distributed in October, 2018. Four more applications will be reviewed at the next scheduled PDC meeting on Wednesday, August 9, 2017, from 1 – 5 p.m. at the PDC office in Boise. Kudos to the counties for all their work on the applications, and special thanks to the nine counties who collaborated with Regional Coordinators to refine their applications.

Regional Coordinators

Regional Coordinators are covering many miles working with Idaho’s counties and defending attorneys. Between mid-June and mid-July, the three RCs, collectively, traveled over 3,000 miles to meet with Boards of County Commissioners or individual commissioners in nineteen (19) counties, helped revise Indigent Defense Grant applications in nine (9) counties, and attended IAC district meetings in three districts in the state. They’ve also met with numerous defending attorneys, county clerks, prosecuting attorneys and a trial court administrator or two. If you haven’t had a chance to meet YOUR Regional Coordinator and don’t have an appointment scheduled with them yet, they’d be pleased to hear from you! Please contact the PDC office for specific information on how to reach your RC.

Rulemaking Update

The PDC continues to engage in negotiated rulemaking in several areas., including (1) oversight and enforcement of Indigent Defense Standards, (2) investigation and the use of expert witnesses, (3) capital defense counsel standards, and (4) workload standards. More detailed information, including information on how to participate in the rulemaking process and DRAFTS of rules that are still under negotiation can be found on the Negotiated Rulemaking page at

We’re pleased you visited us today! Don’t hesitate to contact our office for additional information.

~Kelly Jennings, Deputy Director

The new Regional Coordinators and the Deputy Director were pleased to attend the Idaho Association of Commissioners and Clerks Conference in Idaho Falls from June 6th through June 8th. It was a pleasure to meet so many elected county commissioners, clerks and other officials, answer questions, and make connections. Thank you for your time and hospitality! We hope to be back next year with more information (and chocolate!) for IACC.

The PDC has reviewed all submitted Indigent Defense Grant applications submitted. Many have been approved and the Regional Coordinators are working with counties to gather additional information as requested by the Commission. Sincere thanks to everyone who has worked and continues to work in pulling together information for the applications.

PDC staff have met with stakeholders throughout the state to take comments on rules being drafted by the PDC. Between June 13 through 15, the PDC held meetings in Coeur d’Alene, Orofino, American Falls, Soda Springs, Rexburg and Challis; the following week meetings were held in Jerome, Boise and Weiser. Seventy-two people participated in person over eighteen hours of meeting time! The PDC will continue to take comments for upcoming rules regarding oversight and enforcement and standards for capital defense, workload and investigation. Additional input on capital defense standards is being solicited from attorneys and other interested parties. Drafts of proposed rules will be published in the September 6, 2017, Idaho Administrative Bulletin, and the PDC will be on the road again in October to take more comments.

Thanks for your interest in the PDC’s activities! Don’t hesitate to contact our office for additional information.

~Kelly Jennings, Deputy Director

The PDC-sponsored 2017 Idaho Public Defender DUI Conference is underway today at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene with 65 registered attendees who will each gain six hours of CLE credits at no cost to the participants or to Idaho’s counties. Seven experts convened by the PDC are sharing information on representing indigent defendants with DUI charges.

This morning also saw the distribution of the PDC’s Short Survey on Capital Defense Standards, sent to all members of the Public Defense Roster. The survey is the initial step in collecting input from defending attorneys for negotiated rulemaking under Docket No. 61-0107-1701, which will shift standards for capital defenders from Idaho Criminal Rule 44.3 to IDAPA 61.01.07, Rules Governing Standards for Defending Attorneys that Utilize Idaho’s Principles of an Indigent Defense Delivery System. The PDC requested that defending attorneys complete the survey by Friday, May 26, 2017.

Thanks for your interest in the PDC’s activities! Don’t hesitate to contact our office for additional information.

~Kelly Jennings, Deputy Director

The PDC is proud to announce receipt of 43 Indigent Defense Grant (IDG) Applications from the counties. Only 1 county did not apply as they had not used their grant monies from the previous year. The PDC will review the applications and notify the counties of their awards within 60 days. The IDG funds are made available to the counties from the state to support compliance with indigent defense standards as promulgated by the PDC. Counties must submit a compliance proposal that includes an analysis of what it will cost the county to comply with the standards. Counties are eligible for up to $25,000 or 15% of their indigent defense budget, whichever is greater. The PDC will review the applications to determine whether the county needs IDG funds and how much of their maximum eligible amount they should receive in order to ensure compliance. Last year, 43 of 44 counties applied and all applications were approved for the maximum eligible amount as the PDC felt the counties would need the funds to improve their indigent defense systems and start working towards compliance.

The PDC is also excited to announce the hiring of three Regional Coordinators that will provide local assistance to County Commissioners, County Clerks and Defending Attorneys. Specifically, they will serve as a resource for counties to figure out the most effective and efficient ways to improve their indigent defense delivery systems so they meet the requirements of the 6th Amendment to the US Constitution and provide Idaho’s indigent defendants with the highest quality of representation available. The following Regional Coordinators will serve 3 different regions in Idaho:

Northern Idaho – Judicial Districts 1 and 2: Aaron Freudenthal. Office will be in Moscow, ID.
Eastern Idaho – Judicial Districts 6 and 7: Jared Ricks. Office will be in Blackfoot, ID.
Central Idaho – Judicial Districts 3, 4 and 5: Brianne McCoy. Office will be in Boise, ID (PDC main office).

The Idaho Workload Study is currently underway. Idaho’s public defender’s are in their second week of time tracking. Boise State is collecting the data. The PDC is very excited about this study as it is the most comprehensive study of Idaho’s public defense system that will have been conducted to-date. The results of the study will be used to set a workload standard for Idaho’s public defenders.

Finally, the last PDC sponsored training seminar of Fiscal Year 2017 will occur on May 19, 2017 in Coeur d’Alene. Over 60 of Idaho’s public defenders will attend at the cost of the PDC. The topic focuses on defending DUI cases. In fiscal year 2018, the PDC hopes to sponsor 3-4 training programs including a juvenile defender’s conference and forensic training.

Thanks for your interest in the PDC’s activities! Don’t hesitate to contact our office for additional information.

-Kimberly, Executive Director

The PDC started the week off with the first set of interviews for the three Regional Coordinators that will be come on board by June 1. After a successful run in the Boston Marathon, Executive Director Kimberly Simmons kept on going until she arrived at Harvard Law School, where she’s networking with attorneys and other criminal justice professionals who are convened for Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy Program to discuss criminal justice reform.

This week is the final countdown to the launch of the time tracking portion of the PDC’s workload study! This component of the study will document the many hours Idaho’s defending attorneys spend vigorously defending indigent defendants. Boise State University’s Idaho Policy Institute has been working with defending attorneys to ensure systems are ready to go bright and early on Monday, April 24, when time tracking starts. Participating attorneys who track time regularly throughout the study period are eligible for incentives, including a trip to the Oregon Public Defense Association’s Sunny Climate Seminar held on the Big Island of Hawaii in November, 2017! Please contact Lantz McGinnis-Brown at (208) 386-0056 or via email at with user questions.

~Kelly Jennings, Deputy Director

The months of March and April have kept the PDC quite busy. The PDC is about to launch the workload study, conducted in partnership with Boise State University’s Idaho Policy Institute. We are also interviewing applicants for three Regional Coordinator positions to provide more “boots on the ground” assistance for stakeholders. Our Executive and Deputy Directors, Kimberly Simmons and Kelly Jennings, are in the middle of the “PDC Road Show,” traveling across the state to meet with stakeholders about the recent legislative session, what the PDC has accomplished, and where it’s headed in support of public defense in Idaho. The PDC also recently submitted notices of intent to create administrative rules regarding standards for defending attorneys in the areas of capital defender qualifications and investigation of cases, and in enforcement of standards. Finally, the PDC distributed applications for Indigent Defense Grants for FY2018 (deadline May 1, 2017) as well as applications for grants from the Extraordinary Litigation Fund. More detail about each of these activities follows.

The PDC is in the final process of launching the workload study to collect data to support Idaho’s public defenders. The purpose of this study is to gather Idaho-specific data that can serve as the basis for a workload standard to be recommended by the PDC this fall. The study is being conducted in conjunction with the Idaho Policy Institute of Boise State University. Boise State will gather data about the time that defending attorneys currently spend on their cases, survey all defending attorneys about whether they have sufficient time to handle their caseload, and conduct a panel discussion of experts in the field of criminal defense to get their input as well. Boise State will then synthesize this information into a report for the PDC. The PDC will use this report as the basis for negotiating a workload standard for Idaho’s defending attorneys. We anticipate many opportunities for comment about the Idaho data once it is presented in the fall and encourage all interested persons to join in negotiated rulemaking with the PDC.

We’re happy to announce the PDC is in the process of interviewing and hiring Regional Coordinators, who will be in the field around the state by June 1. The hiring of Regional Coordinators will double the permanent staff of the PDC and greatly increase our ability to assist Idaho’s counties as they manage issues related to public defense and to support defending attorneys. Once the Regional Coordinators are hired, we will begin the process of introducing them to stakeholders throughout the state.

Executive and Deputy Directors Kimberly Simmons and Kelly Jennings have been travelling throughout the state to meet with stakeholders and talk about what the PDC has accomplished in the past year and its goals in the coming months. The meetings in the southern half of the state are complete, but the meetings in north Idaho will be held on April 26th in Moscow (6:00pm: Fairfield Inn & Suites) and April 27th in Coeur d’Alene (6:00pm: North Idaho College, Todd Hall Lecture Room in Molstead Library). We hope that interested stakeholders in north Idaho will be able to come out to these meetings to learn about the work of the PDC and to share their insights about public defense in Idaho.

The PDC has issued two Notices of Intent to Promulgate Rules and one temporary rule. The notices, located in the April 5, 2017 administrative bulletin, here, pertain to standards for defending attorneys regarding investigation and capital defense, and rules for the enforcement of Indigent Defense Standards. The PDC is extremely interested in receiving public comment regarding the subject of both of these notices, and will schedule public hearings about them when there is sufficient expressed interest. The temporary rule pertains to Indigent Defense Grants, to provide both the PDC and stakeholders a framework for assessing Indigent Defense Grant applications that are due May 1, 2017. The temporary rule specifically sets out a method of appeal for Counties if their IDG applications are not approved to the Counties’ satisfaction.

Indigent Defense Grant applications are now available in the “Forms & Reports” section of this website. This year a compliance checklist is a required portion of the application. This checklist will allow counties to indicate whether they comply with statutory provisions and administrative rules regarding public defense. Given the statutory timeline, compliance with the administrative rules adopted during the 2017 legislative session is suggested but is not required until March 31, 2018. The PDC was encouraged by the robust response to last year’s call for grant applications and hopes that this year will see the same sort of response.

Another avenue for counties to receive state funds to support public defense is through the Extraordinary Litigation Fund (ELF). The ELF is a new program this year that is designed to help counties cope with unusual or extreme costs associated with a public defense case. For instance, a murder case or complex drug conspiracy may require that the defense incur large costs in order to zealously represent their client. ELF applications are exempt from public records requests pursuant to Idaho Code § 74-105. This means that attorneys can disclose information and be confident that it will not find its way into the public sphere. For this fiscal year onlyELF applications can be for reimbursement for qualifying expenses paid on or after July 1, 2016. Statutory provisions require attorneys to apply for ELF grants and we encourage attorneys and Counties to discuss possible eligible expenses for reimbursement. After June 30, 2017, ELF applications will be limited to prospective expenses. Applicants will be required to apply to the ELF before incurring the qualifying expense. If approved, the entity providing services to the defense will be paid directly by the PDC.

Please feel free to contact the PDC about any of the subjects discussed in this news item or about public defense in Idaho more generally. We enjoy hearing from stakeholders about the state of public defense in Idaho and learning what we can do to help improve the delivery of services to indigent defendants.

-Andrew Masser, Research Analyst

The germane committees passed both of our rules (Proposed and Pending Rules – Standards for Defending Attorneys; Rules (Standards) – Training Funds Administration). Assuming the floors of each chamber pass the rules, the standards rule will go into effect on May 1st, and the training rules will be immediately effective. Counties will need to comply with these standards by March 31, 2018.

During this session, I presented to both germane committees, updating the members on the activities of the PDC and where we are headed. My final legislative presentation was to JFAC on Friday, requesting our budget for FY2018. The request was status quo as we didn’t haven’t any hard data to request any additional funding, though we do expect to see budgets for indigent defense increase again this year. Our goal here at the PDC is to monitor the indigent defense systems in the counties closely so we can request additional funds when necessary to keep these systems healthy and constitutional.

A big thank you goes out to Nicole Owens, Adam Kimball, and Tony Geddes of the Ada County Public Defender’s Office for their assistance in presenting a training on Public Defense to County officials at the IAC Winter Conference last week. The training was well received and we hope to do more in the future. There was a suggestion that this training be provided to the legislature. We are currently looking into that.

Visits to Counties: These visits will resume this spring. My staff and I will start scheduling trips this week to provide updates on the PDC’s activities, and more. Stakeholders throughout the counties should expect to hear from us very soon.

Indigent Defense Grants: Applications will be available February 28th. They are due on May 1, 2017 this year.

Extraordinary Litigation Funds Applications: We hope to send these out within the next several weeks. Stay tuned for updates.

Rule Promulgation (creation) and Negotiated Rulemaking: Please keep an eye out for a Notice of Intent to Engage in Negotiated Rulemaking in early April 2017. At our next Commission meeting on February 22, 2017, we will be discussing the areas in which we will focus this year. Your input is welcome. If you cannot make it to the office for that meeting, contact us for call-in information.

Workload Study: This will be underway very soon! The legislature approved a transfer of $100,000 from our unused county grant funds in order to conduct this study. We anticipate part of the study will take place in March, and public defenders will be asked to start tracking their time in April for a total of 12-16 weeks. We are very happy to announce that Justice Works will be providing software to us free-of-charge: DefenderData Prime. Contact the office with questions or concerns.

I’m sure there is so much more I could provide for this update, but I’ll stop for now. We’re excited to continue moving forward in our effort to improve indigent defense services in Idaho. We are very grateful to be working with so many cooperative and supportive officials at the State and County level, as well as public defenders state wide.

-Kimberly, Executive Director

The House Judiciary and Rules Committee approved both our Training Rule (IDAPA 61.01.01) and Rule Governing Standards for Defending Attorneys (IDAPA 61.01.07) yesterday. See more about our Standards here: Proposed and Pending Rules. This is the second victory for the PDC in the legislature so far this year! We are excited to move forward and continue to spread the message about our mission and work here at the PDC.

Some of the upcoming presentations have been rescheduled, so the current legislative calendar for our presentations are as follows:

Wednesday, January 25, 2017, 1:30pm: Informational presentation to House Judiciary and Rules Committee

Wednesday, February 1, 2017, 1:30pm: Informational presentation to Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee

Monday, February 6, 2017, 1:30pm: Rules Presentation to Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee

Friday, February 10, 2017, 8:00am: Budget Presentation to JFAC

At a meeting of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) of the Idaho Legislature this morning, the Committee unanimously voted to make a DO-PASS recommendation of the Commission’s request for an object-transfer of funds that will be used to conduct a workload study this year. Once this is approved by the Legislature, and is signed by the Governor, the PDC will be working with BSU’s Idaho Policy Institute to conduct the workload study. This study will analyze the amount of time Idaho’s defending attorneys are and should be spending on the representation of indigent defendants. The PDC is very excited about this opportunity and will be diligent it’s execution.

The PDC will be keeping a close watch on the activities of the legislature this session as it pertains to public defense in Idaho. We already have a few presentations scheduled with the germane committees and our FY2018 budget presentation is scheduled with JFAC. We do not yet know when our rules will be presented, but you may call our office for any updates. The presentations are scheduled as follows:

Senate Judiciary & Rules Committee: January 23rd, 1:30pm

House Judiciary & Rules Committee: January 25th, 1:30pm

JFAC: February 10th, 8:00am

The Idaho State Public Defense Commission (PDC) is pleased to announce the finalization of Idaho’s first set of standards for public defenders after considerable collaboration with Idaho’s counties and public defenders. The proposed standards, which have been incorporated into an Idaho administrative rule, address public defenders’ presence at a defendant’s first appearance in court, vertical representation, attorney experience and continuing legal education. The pending rule incorporating the standards will be published in the January 4, 2017, volume of the legislative bulletin. and will be reviewed by the Idaho Legislature during the 2017 legislative session as a part of the administrative rule review process.

The PDC is particularly pleased to incorporate a standard that requires representation of all indigent defendants at their first appearance in court. Currently, in many counties, indigent defendants face a judge without the assistance of counsel. This provision fulfills the constitutional requirement that the right to counsel applies at all critical stages and will encourage early interviews, investigation and resolution of cases. Additionally, indigent defendants will have an opportunity, through counsel, to effectively argue to be released on bail. In many instances, indigent defendants are spending more time in jail before a determination of guilt than those who have been convicted.

“Vertical representation” refers to the continued handling of a defendant’s case at all critical stages by one attorney. This practice is widely recognized as one that maximizes effective representation for indigent defendants, as it encourages the establishment of an attorney-client relationship, fosters an attorney’s accountability and responsibility in the outcome of a case, decreases the likelihood of omissions of necessary work as a case passes between attorneys, and prohibits a process where clients are re-interviewed by a parade of staff starting from scratch. The incorporated standards encourage this process whenever it is practical.

The rule incorporates a number of provisions regarding a public defender’s abilities, training and experience. Public defenders are encouraged only to take cases that they are experienced enough to handle and required to annually complete continuing legal education hours. Continued legal education ensures that Idaho’s public defenders will be apprised of any changes in the law.

In addition to these performance standards, the PDC also finalized temporary administrative rules related to training funds the PDC makes available to Idaho’s public defenders. The PDC sponsors or co-sponsors multiple trainings per year and also provides funds for public defenders to attend other trainings. Together, the continuing legal education requirement and available training funds ensure that Idaho’s public defenders are given the opportunity to stay abreast of current developments in the law.

As a whole, the standards represent a necessary first step in improving Idaho’s indigent defense system. The PDC is extremely grateful to all the individuals and entities, particularly Idaho’s counties and public defenders, that provided comment or feedback throughout the negotiated rulemaking process. The PDC is proud to continue the work of improving Idaho’s indigent defense system in a collaborative manner with all of Idaho’s criminal justice stakeholders who take on the important responsibility of providing constitutionally-sound representation for indigent defendants.

The PDC received a great deal of input from stakeholders regarding setting maximum caseload numbers and will delay setting a specific caseload standard at this time, pending a workload study specific to Idaho. However, it is important to note that a public defender’s workload should not be so high that it makes it impossible to give each client’s case the time it deserves.

The PDC had a very busy October! In addition to the Commission meeting on October 5 and making two presentations for the Idaho Association of Counties at their conference, PDC Executive Director Kimberly Simmons and Deputy Director Kelly Jennings, accompanied by PDC members, held public hearings in each of Idaho’s seven judicial districts to take comments on proposed IDAPA Rule 61.01.07, Rules Governing the Standards for Defending Attorneys that Utilize Idaho’s Principles of an Indigent Defense Delivery System. The PDC opened the doors in Boise, Caldwell, Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Twin Falls, Coeur d’Alene and Lewiston, and received some great input from stakeholders. Sincere thanks to the 56 people who attended, including county commissioners, defending attorneys, other legal professionals and members of the public. Input at the meetings and written comments are critical components of the process of developing rules that will support a stronger indigent defense system throughout Idaho.

Special thanks to PDC Chair Darrell Bolz and members Linda Copple-Trout, Bill Wellman, and Eric Fredericksen for participating in the open meetings and talking with stakeholders.

FINAL DEADLINE for comments on the proposed rule is Friday, November 18, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. Comments can be submitted to the PDC office at 816 West Bannock, Suite 201, Boise, Idaho 83702, or by email to or via fax to (208) 364-6147. Comments will be reviewed by the PDC at a special meeting on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. at the PDC office, and wording will be finalized at that time. The public is welcome to attend.

Staffing update: Welcome to Andrew Masser, Research Analyst, intern-turned full-time temporary PDC staff! Andrew has provided invaluable service as an intern and continues to add value with his excellent research skills and legal analysis of issues relevant to the PDC’s mission.

Annual Reporting Form: Thanks to the counties of Ada, Bannock, Blaine, Bonner, Bonneville, Boundary, Gem, Jerome, Kootenai, Latah, Lincoln, Owyhee, Shoshone, Twin Falls, Valley, and the State Appellate Public Defender for getting a jump on annual reporting and submitting numbers for FY16! Your work is greatly appreciated.

The PDC had another successful and productive meeting yesterday. There were many items on the agenda. Highlights from the meeting are below. Minutes from the meeting will be available after they are approved at the next meeting on November 1, 2016 at 1:00pm.

Executive Director Report: Kimberly presented twice at the Idaho Association of Counties conference last week. Commissioners and other attendees asked thoughtful questions and raised some concerns regarding the proposed standards. Comments on the proposed standards taken from these presentations will eventually be made part of the rulemaking record that will be available on the Negotiated Rulemaking page. Kimberly also reported on her testimony in the State of Idaho v. Jonathan D. Renfro case pursuant to a subpoena. The Public Defender’s office filed a motion to preclude the death penalty based upon lack of resources and excessive caseloads. The motion was ultimately denied by the Judge.

Office Staffing Needs: The Commission approved a temporary employee to assist with legal research for the PDC. The temporary employee will be full-time and start on October 31, 2016 through the end of April 2017. The hiring of District Liaisons is on hold as the PDC continues to focus on promulgating standards, collecting data and conducting research. The Commission further approved the attendance of the Deputy Director, Kelly Jennings, at a conference in New Orleans hosted by the American Society of Criminology. In addition to training programs focusing on criminal defense work, there is a full-day solely dedicated to the legal services for indigents. Ms. Jennings will gain valuable knowledge at this conference, as well as have the opportunity to establish some working relationships with outside resources for the PDC.

Annual Reporting Form: Defending attorneys are required to submit an annual report each year on November 1 to their county commissioners, administrative district judge and the PDC. The Commission approved, with a few edits, an annual reporting form that was created by Ms. Jennings and other PDC staff. The form will be available on the website shortly. It was emailed out to public defenders today.

Extraordinary Litigation Form: The Commission was appropriated $250,000 to distribute to the counties for extraordinary litigation. The Commission is reviewing a proposed policy and application form for extraordinary litigation pursuant to Idaho Code section 19-850(2)(e). Members asked to take the policy and form home for further review. This will be reviewed again at the next Commission meeting.

Don’t forget about the October public hearings on the proposed rule that includes standards for defending attorneys. We hope to see you there!


October is another busy month here at the PDC. We held our first public hearing on the proposed rule that includes standards for defending attorneys last night. Though attendance was low, we received valuable comments on the rule which will soon be available on the website on our Negotiated Rulemaking page. We are holding 6 more hearings around the state. The dates are on the Negotiated Rulemaking page.

We are also busy updating our website to make it more user-friendly. I’m happy to introduce our new Forms page. This page will provide a one-stop shop for applications and helpful forms so you don’t have to search the website for them. We have a new Local Share and Grant Calculation Form to assist defending attorneys and counties calculate their local share and eligible grant award for any given county fiscal year. This is a great tool for planning an indigent defense budget.

Stay tuned for another update as we have our monthly Commission meeting this afternoon where we will discuss “extraordinary litigation” and a new annual reporting form, amongst other business. Have a great day!


Happy Friday! An update is long overdue, but the delay is the result of a very busy PDC this month. Yours truly completed county visits this month, visiting a total of 39 out of 44 counties over the summer, and is back at the office preparing for the very important meeting next week where the Commission will vote on the proposed rule regarding Standards for Defending Attorneys and the Grant Applications. The public is welcome to attend. See the Commission Meeting schedule for more information.

A Negotiated rulemaking meeting was held yesterday in Boise as a result of over 100 emails that were received from citizens. Two Commission members, Justice Trout and Chair Bolz, were present, along with Canyon County Public Defender Tera Harden, Ada County Chief Deputy Public Defender Tony Geddes and ACLU Public Policy Strategist Kathy Griesmeyer. An insightful and helpful discussion regarding the proposed rule was had. The Commission thanks the attendees for their presence and comments. A summary of all the public comments can be found on theNegotiated Rulemaking page.

Once the Commission votes on the proposed rule, it will be submitted for publication in the legislative bulletin on September 2nd. The Commission will then schedule public hearings in several locations around the State in October to accept additional comment before the final pending rule is submitted on November 25, 2016. We anticipate the Legislature will review and approve the rule in January 2017. As usual, emails will go out directly to Public Defenders and to County Commissioners and Clerks through the IAC. Otherwise, you are encouraged to follow our website for updates.

This fall, the Commission hopes to, among other things, finalize a definition of “extraordinary litigation” so that Counties may apply for funding from the State via the PDC to help offset extraordinary public defense costs, provide some guidance on what defending attorneys should be tracking this year, plan future training conferences for defending attorneys, and establish a timeline of future standards to be created in line with Section 19-850, Idaho Code.


Good afternoon from Boise! The PDC is busy as can be working on standards for defending attorneys. In the last week, 2 separate media outlets have published stories about our work. Here is a brief update:

UPDATE ON RULESTemporary Training Rules and the Notice of Intent to create standards for defending attorneys have been published as of today in the legislative bulletin. Please pay attention to the deadlines for comment as we have to submit our proposed rules on September 2, 2016. The PDC is going forward this year by creating rules requiring the availability of a public defender at initial appearances, regarding caseloads, and performance standards for defending attorneys. A draft of the rules can be obtained from the PDC office.

UPDATE ON GRANT APPLICATIONS: The deadline has passed for counties to apply for funding from the State for their indigent defense services. 43 of 44 counties applied. The PDC has 60 days from the date of their application to respond.

I will be visiting counties within the 3rd and 4th Districts next week, then returning to Northern Idaho the following week to meet with those counties. The meetings have been very helpful as we learn about Idaho’s unique needs in various areas of the state. Our next Commission meeting is August 30, 2016 at 1:00pm at our office in Boise: 816 W. Bannock, Suite 201. Everyone is welcome to attend. We will be posting an agenda at least a week before the meeting. We will in the very least be voting on the rules that will be proposed this year so they can submitted Sept. 2nd. There will be additional time for comment at public hearings in October before the final draft is submitted on November 25, 2016.


Just a brief update today as we are busy processing Indigent Defense Grant applications and conducting interviews for the Deputy Director position. We have received 14 grant applications so far. As the money comes with virtually no-strings attached this year, we hope that every county in Idaho will apply. The money is to be used to improve indigent defense services across the State. Grant applications are due August 1, 2016. As the Commission engages in negotiated rulemaking to create standards for indigent defense services, the counties may find that the grant money is vital to meeting those standards. The Commission has decided to focus on three (3) standards this year: requiring a defending attorney be present at initial appearances, a caseloadstandard, and performance standards for defending attorneys. Having an attorney available at initial appearances, especially to argue bond for in-custody defendants, is imperative to a constitutional system. The Commission is keenly aware that this will cost many counties more money. The grant monies will helpfully be able to assist with that increase in budget. A caseload standard will be a great way for counties to assess the workload of their defending attorneys and inquire as to whether more attorneys are needed as we move forward. Finally, performance standards for defending attorneys will make sure that the level and experience of an attorney matches the complexity of a case so that defendants are receiving the best possible service Idaho can provide.

We have more interviews this week for the Deputy Director position in our office. We are excited to expand our staff so we can provide the best possible service to Idaho’s counties and public defenders.

EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT: We now have an Application for Scholarship Funding for attorneys and staff who would like to attend training programs. Please review the Training Rules on how to apply for programs not sponsored by the Commission.

Our next Commission meeting is August 2nd, 2016 at 1:00pm right here at our office in Boise: 816 W. Bannock, Suite 201. Everyone is welcome to attend. We will be posting an agenda very soon.


House Bill 504 went into effect on July 1, and the PDC has been very busy tackling the plethora of new duties it has been given. We are in the throws of our first Indigent Defense Grant application process, creating rules that will set the standards and guidelines with which public defenders and counties will have to comply, and conducting outreach to develop positive working relationships with stakeholders. What does all this mean?

Indigent Defense Grant applications: The legislature has appropriated over $4 million to the PDC to give to the counties to assist in the improvement of their indigent defense delivery systems. The grant money is conditioned on compliance with standards, and this year, the only standard with which the counties must comply is “delivery model.” The “delivery model” is the manner in which a county chooses to provide indigent defense services under Idaho Code 19-859. As long as counties are providing services by choosing one of the models in the statute, they are in compliance. Counties are still eligible for grant money if they are out of compliance as long as there is a reasonable plan to come into compliance. The grant money is intended to assist in that process. If a county believes they are in compliance, then the grant money is intended to improve the indigent defense services. See Idaho Code 19-862A(2). Applications are due to the PDC by August 1, 2016. The PDC will notify the counties within 60 days of submission of their application of approval or disapproval. If approved, funds will be disbursed to the counties on or about October 1, 2016.

Rule CreationIdaho Code 19-850(a) gives the PDC several different areas in which we will be creating standards and guidelines that will require compliance from the counties. The PDC will engage in negotiated rulemaking to create these rules. This process requires dialogue amongst the agency and interested parties in order to negotiate and reach a consensus regarding the content of the rules. On July 14, 2016, at our open meeting, the PDC discussed which rules to create this year. The PDC has decided to create the rules in stages, over time, so as to not saddle the public defenders and counties with too many rules at once. It was decided that we will focus on these following areas this year: initial appearances and making sure indigent defendants have representation at this hearing, caseload standards and performance standards for defending attorneys. A Notice of Intent will publish in the Administrative Bulletin on August 3rd. Responses to this Notice will be due August 19, 2016. We strongly encourage all stakeholders to communicate with us via email, phone, fax, or by requesting a meeting by the August 19th deadline for responses. We will submit a proposed rule for publication on September 2, 2016. In October 2016, we will hold public meetings in at least 3 different areas around the State. We will accept comments on the proposed rules at that time. The final proposed rules must be submitted on November 25, 2016 so that we they can be submitted for approval by the legislature in January. It is important to remember that compliance of these rules, under the statute, must occur by March 31, 2018. The PDC will continue to encourage and recommend the counties to come into compliance ahead of that date, as we will continue to create rules as required under the statute.

Meetings around the State: I have been traveling extensively over the past several weeks meeting with Commissioners, Clerks and Public Defenders. I will continue my travels throughout Judicial Districts 5 & 6: July 18-21, Judicial Districts 3 & 4: August 8-10, and return to Districts 1 & 2: August 15-17. If I have not contacted you regarding a meeting, and you are interested in meeting with me, please email me to schedule a time and date.

Please stay tuned for additional updates on annual reporting and other standards. My hope is to keep public defenders and counties apprised of the things they should start tracking (if not already doing so) on October 1, the start of the fiscal year for counties. Additionally, I hope to announce the hiring of a Deputy Director soon. The application period for the position closed this past Monday, and we will be conducting interviews over the next several weeks.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this update. I know I didn’t address everything we have been doing, but this should be a pretty decent summary for now. I will try to post an update at least once a week. Do not hesitate to contact us with questions, comments, concerns or to just grab a cup of coffee!


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