This amendment is necessary to implement changes to the King County public defense structure resulting from a recent settlement agreement in a class action lawsuit. King County historically has contracted with private, non-profit corporations for the provision of public defense services. Because these corporations were viewed as independent contractors, their employees did not receive county benefits. As a result of the settlement, public defenders became county employees July 1, 2013, requiring restructuring of the public defense system.
A properly functioning and independent public defense system is paramount to the fundamental principles of our justice system. Public defenders perform a vital role within the justice system by advocating for the rights of all citizens regardless of income. They represent individuals who cannot afford to pay for their own lawyer, primarily in criminal, civil commitment, and termination of parental rights cases. This amendment protects the strengths of our nationally recognized public defense system while meeting the requirements of the Court settlement.
Please vote yes to give King County’s Public Defender the strong, independent voice needed to continue our tradition of excellence and independence in protecting the civil liberties of the most vulnerable residents of King County.
Statement submitted by: Christie Hedman, Larry Gossett and Jacqueline McMurtrie firstname.lastname@example.org