OCPD: Connecticut As Pioneer

Connecticut As Pioneer


1818

The Declaration of Rights of the Connecticut Constitution states that a person accused of breaking the law has the right to use the services of a lawyer, but only if the accused person could afford to hire one.


1872

The Connecticut General Assembly enacts legislation to compensate attorneys who are assigned to defend poor defendants against criminal charges.  Whether a poor person would or would not be assigned a lawyer was left to the trial judge.


1882

The Connecticut General Assembly enacts legislation that specifically allows lawyers for indigent people to be compensated in cases involving the death penalty or life imprisonment at a fee of $10 per day.


1885

The Connecticut General Assembly expands the legislation to compensate defense attorneys for services such as investigations in cases involving the death penalty or life imprisonment.


1893

The Connecticut General Assembly allows defense attorneys to be compensated for their time and necessary expenses in felony criminal cases, except appeals.


1909

The Connecticut General Assembly specifically authorizes the compensation of lawyers assigned to represent indigent persons in the Court of Common Pleas at a fee of $5.00 per day.


1917

The Connecticut General Assembly adopts the first statewide public defender system in the country --- one public defender per county to be appointed by the judges of the Superior Court.


1975

The Connecticut General Assembly enacts "An Act Concerning A Public Defender Services Commission" as an independent agency with responsibility for setting policies, hiring public defenders, and appointing a chief and deputy chief public defender to oversee the administration of the system.  The legislation, Public Act 74-317, passes the House of Representatives and Senate unanimously.  State Representatives Samuel Freedman and James Bingham are the primary sponsors in the House and Senator Scalo the primary sponsor in the Senate.  The bill is signed into law by Governor Thomas Meskill.


1976

The Appellate Unit is established and a Habeas Corpus attorney appointed.


1977

The first Chief Investigator is appointed and three full-time public defenders are hired to represent juveniles who are accused of crimes.


1980

Educational programs for public defenders, investigators and clerical staff are developed.  Specialized training programs for newly appointed public defenders are established.


1982

The first 5-day residential trial advocacy program is offered for public defenders.


1984

The Division handles its first death penalty case.  All but two offices have a full-time investigator.  Legal clinics at the University of Connecticut and Bridgeport Schools of Law assist with appeals.


1985

The Capital Defense Unit is established, the first Chief Social Worker is appointed, and the Division holds the first in-depth seminar on the death penalty in Connecticut.


1986

Social work services are provided to clients in every public defender office.  Public defenders begin representing clients before the Psychiatric Security Review Board.


1987

The Division's first computers are purchased and installed.  Five teams of public defenders and social workers are hired under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act.


1988

The first Personnel Director and Legal Counsel are appointed.


1991

The first full-time Director of Training is appointed.


1992

The Department of Veterans Affairs establishes the first "Stand Down" where on-site legal representation is provided by Public Defenders to resolve minor criminal and motor vehicle cases.


1995

A Criminal Appellate Clinic at Quinnipiac Law School is established by the Division and taught by Appellate public defenders.  The Clinic continues to be active today.


1996

The Committee to Preserve and Enhance Client and Professional Dignity is established.


1999

An agreement is reached in Rivera v. Rowland, et al. providing additional resources and staff to the Division.  New caseload goals are adopted.  Computers and state-of-the-art legal research software are purchased for every attorney.  A Director of Special Public Defenders is appointed.


2000

The Division of Public Defender Services celebrates its 25th anniversary.  The first woman Chief Investigator is appointed.





Content Last Modified on 8/18/2011 7:48:27 AM