Northern Mariana Islands

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All data is current as of 2013, unless otherwise noted.
Return to the list of all States & Territories.

How the right to counsel is administered and structured

State commission: none
Branch of government: executive

The Office of the Public Defender (OPD) is an executive branch agency located on the main island of Saipan that provides representation to indigent people throughout the Northern Mariana Islands commonwealth. The governor appoints the OPD chief public defender with advice and consent of the Senate.

The judiciary is responsible for the provision of counsel where OPD has a conflict of interest.

How the right to counsel is funded

Percentage of territorial funding: 100%
Percentage of local funding: 0%
Percentage of alternative funding: 0%

The methods used to provide public counsel

Statutory language gives exclusive discretion to the judiciary to make determinations of indigency prior to appointing the public defender in all criminal, juvenile and traffic cases. Eligibility determinations are made at the initial appearance.

The commonwealth’s Office of the Public Defender (OPD) provides right to counsel services in all superior courts with a staff of three assistant attorneys, one investigator, and one legal secretary. The majority of cases are heard on Saipan, though proceedings are also held occasionally in courtrooms on the islands of Rota and Tinian.

The judiciary maintains a list of attorneys and appoints counsel directly in cases where OPD has a conflict of interest.

Legal authority

Northern Mariana Islands Constitution, art. I, § 4(a)

Northern Mariana Islands Code,  1 CMC §§ 2201 through 2205

Source of data: original research conducted by Sixth Amendment Center staff.