NACDL President Cynthia Orr Said Harris County Indigent-Defense System Needs Improvements
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers President Cynthia Orr said Harris County, which includes Houston, should implement a public defender office without delay for the benefit of the taxpayers and the defendants. Her statements, along with fellow attorney Norman Lefstein’s were published on September 25th, 2009, by the Houston Chronicle.
The county has struggled in the past to have counsel for indigent defendants, Orr said, adding that the system has been broken. A broken system could have severe consequences, she said, including the wrong person being convicted of a crime. The Harris County Commissioners Court ordered a study to determine if a public defender office could improve indigent representation. The court now has a plan to establish a public defender office to represent indigent defendants in five courts, and eleven courts for appeals.