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All data is current as of 2013, unless otherwise noted.
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How the right to counsel is administered and structured

State commission: none
Branch of government: judicial

Right to counsel services in the state of Washington are almost entirely the responsibility of the counties.

The Washington State Office of Public Defense (OPD) administers those indigent representation programs that are funded by the state. OPD is prohibited from directly representing clients. Instead, it manages contracts with private attorneys to provide representation in certain types of cases and in a limited number of counties. The state’s Supreme Court directly appoints the director of OPD. The legislature created an 11-person advisory committee, appointed by diverse authorities, to assist the OPD in promulgating policies.


The Washington Supreme Court has issued a number of rules about how right to counsel services are provided, including banning flat fee contracting, establishing performance standards, and implementing caseload controls.

How the right to counsel is funded

Percentage of state funding: 20%
Percentage of local funding: 80%
Percentage of alternative funding: 0%

Indigent defense services in the state of Washington are, for the most part, entirely county funded.

The methods used to provide public counsel

Direct representation of indigent people at trial is primarily provided by counties and cities.

In 31 of 39 counties, the state Office of Public Defense (OPD) contracts with private attorneys to provide representation in dependency and termination of parental rights cases.

OPD also contracts with private attorneys to provide representation in direct appeals and in civil commitment cases throughout the state.

Legal authority

Washington Constitution, art. I, § 22

Washington Revised Code, §§ 10.101.005 through 10.01.900

Washington State Court, Superior Court Criminal Rules, rules 3.1 and 3.1 Stds

Source of data: original research conducted by Sixth Amendment Center staff, augmented by the American Bar Association, “State, County and Local Indigent Defense Expenditures, Fiscal Year 2008″,” November 2010.