Establishing a dedicated senior public defender position to support the Larimer County Competency Docket

Public defender positions are allocated by the state legislature.  When a new docket is established in a jurisdiction, the public defender’s office must cover it with existing resources.  Competency clients present additional complexities to legal representation for defense attorneys, and in a jurisdiction in which nearly all competency cases have been assigned to a specific docket, it is difficult for the public defender’s office to staff the docket while attending to its normal caseload.   

The dedicated public defender will enable additional collaboration and communication with other stakeholders about client needs.   It will expand the capacity of the jurisdiction to screen referrals into the competency docket.  Finally, this program will be a pilot to determine whether a public defender staff position dedicated to the competency caseload shows a reduction in the in-custody competency waitlist.

One senior public defender

60 clients at a time

Decrease in individuals who require admittance to the state hospital for competency restoration; Decrease in time to reach competency outcome; Increase in cases diverted from prosecution

Larimer County has emerged as a leader in programmatic development and implementation to serve the competency population.  This program will serve as a pilot to determine whether having a dedicated public defender staff position for competency clients is a benefit to the jurisdiction’s capacity to serve clients out-of-custody, and eventually work toward alternative and therapeutically-informed case dispositions. 

$262,000 for two years