The Office of the State Public Defender is responsible for coordinating Iowa's Indigent Defense System. Our mission is to ensure that all indigent persons in Iowa are provided high quality legal representation in criminal, juvenile, and other eligible proceedings in the most efficient and fiscally responsible manner.
The office is led by the State Public Defender, who is appointed by the Governor. More than two hundred employees in eighteen Local Public Defender Offices and the Appellate Defender's Office provide representation for indigent persons primarily in criminal and juvenile cases at the trial and appellate levels in all of Iowa's 99 counties. The State Public Defender also contracts with more than one thousand private attorneys and several nonprofit organizations throughout Iowa to provide court-appointed representation in cases that public defender offices are unable to handle. These contract attorneys, as well as other indigent defense providers, such as investigators, court reporters, interpreters, and expert witnesses, are paid from the Indigent Defense Fund, which is administered by the State Public Defender.
The Office of the State Public Defender is authorized by Chapter 13B of the Iowa Code.