At a Glance (as of 2013)
Percentage of territorial funding: 100%
Percentage of local funding: 0%
Percentage of alternative funding: 0%
State commission: yes
Branch of government: judiciary
Structure & Funding of Indigent Defense Services
The Public Defender Service Corporation (PDSC) is a non-profit entity that contracts with the judicial branch of government to provide indigent defense services in the territories superior and appellate courts. PDSC is governed by a five-member Board of Trustees made up of: the Chief Justice, the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court, the President of the Guam Bar Association, and two other members appointed by the Chief Justice. In addition to handling all criminal matters, PDSC represents clients in some civil matters, including uncontested guardianship, domestic violence, and land disputes. Despite being employees of a non-profit entity, PDSC attorneys and staff participate in the government retirement fund.
Per statute, PDSC has “the power to do any and all things necessary to further the purposes” of the right to counsel including setting standards and policies. For example, PDSC staffs all initial appearance courts in order to comply with constitutional demands of early appointment of counsel. Thus, if the court determines a defendant eligible for Sixth Amendment services, representation starts immediately. Additionally, statutory authority allowed PDSC to create a conflict defender division, called the Alternate Public Defender, separated from the primary attorneys through ethical screens.
Source of data: original research conducted by Sixth Amendment Center staff.