A fair and functioning public defense system, with strong statewide oversight and support, is essential to protecting Utahns’ Sixth Amendment rights. This spring, Utah will finally establish a statewide Indigent Defense Commission (IDC), which will set standards for our state public defense system — and hopefully provide funding and technical support to counties.
We recently learned that this new commission might start on exactly the WRONG foot: without full independence from law enforcement and prosecuting attorneys. At least two active government prosecutors have been proposed to sit on the IDC.
Legal authorities and policy experts have said for years that independence is a critical characteristic of a constitutionally adequate public defender system. Having active government prosecutors serve on the commission is in direct conflict with the goal of building a statewide public defender system that works for defendants, not the government.
Thank you for taking action!