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At a Glance (as of 2013)

Percentage of state funding: 95%
Percentage of local funding: 5%
Percentage of alternative funding: 0%
State commission: yes
Branch of government: executive


Structure & Funding of Indigent Defense Services

The Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy (DPA) is a statewide, state-funded agency in the executive branch overseen by an independent 12-member Public Advocacy Commission appointed by diverse authorities: Governor (7 appointments: 3 lawyers recommended by Kentucky Bar Association; one child advocate; 1 recommended by DPA’s Protection & Advocacy Division; and 2 others); Kentucky Supreme Court (2); dean of each law school in Kentucky (3). The Commission appoints the state public advocate who, in turn, is responsible for executing the Commission’s policy directives including the proper administration of right to counsel services across the state. DPA oversees 32 branch offices whose chief attorneys, in turn, are responsible for direct client representation by full time public defender staff and by local panels of private attorneys handling individual case assignments in conflict matters.


Jefferson County’s indigent defense system operates outside of, but in cooperation with, the statewide system. Having been in existence long before the creation of the Department of Public Advocacy, Jefferson County opted to retain its method of contracting with a nonprofit public defender office, the Louisville Metro Public Defender Corporation, to provide direct representation in all right to counsel matters in the county’s criminal and juvenile courts, rather than joining the state system. The Louisville nonprofit also subcontracts with private counsel to represent clients in cases of conflict. Funding for the Jefferson County system comes from a combination of county and state dollars.

Statutory Authority

Ky. Rev. Stats. Chapter 31

Source of data: original research conducted by Sixth Amendment Center staff, augmented by the Department of Public Advocacy, Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Litigation Report, September 2013.