Tennessee District Public Defenders Conference

The District Public Defenders Conference was created by Chapter 588, §11, of the Public Acts of 1989. The Conference is a statewide system of elected public defenders from each Judicial District, and the central administrative office of the Executive Director. The public defenders of Shelby and Davidson Counties were added to the Conference by Chapter 751, § 6, of the Public Acts of 1990.  It is the duty of the Conference to give consideration to the enactment of such laws and rules of procedure as may be necessary to promote a more effective administration of justice and enhance the peace and good order in the State.

Each District Public Defender’s office facilitates the State’s obligation, under the Constitution of the United States, to provide an attorney to a person charged with the commission of a crime who is determined to be indigent.  District Public Defenders have a statutory duty to represent indigent persons for whom they have been appointed as counsel by the court:

         (1) In any criminal prosecution or juvenile delinquency proceeding involving a possible deprivation of liberty; or

         (2) in any habeas corpus or other post-conviction proceeding (T.C.A. § 8-14-201).

District Public Defenders counsel the accused, representing the accused in the trial court. If the accused is determined to be guilty by the judgment of the trial court, and a sentence of imprisonment is imposed, or the court dismisses a habeas corpus or post-conviction petition, the District Public Defender must fully advise the accused of his or her right to appellate review.  If the defendant wishes to appeal his or her case, the District Public Defender must reasonably take all steps necessary to perfect the appeal.This includes a motion for new trial when required, and the filing of all essential transcripts and records with the clerk of the appellate court. The District Public Defender has a continuing duty and responsibility to handle any appeals filed by the defendant whom they represented at trial.

There are twenty-nine District Public Defenders in Tennessee and two local public defenders in Shelby and Davidson Counties. Each District Public Defender is elected by the citizens of his or her judicial district and serves an eight-year term. Public defenders and assistant Public Defenders are licensed attorneys, duly admitted to practice law before the courts of Tennessee.