§29-21-3b. Indigent Defense Commission.
(a) There is hereby established the Indigent Defense Commission to provide assistance to Public Defender Services with regard to the general policies and procedures of the agency, including, but not limited to, the opening, closing or merging of public defender offices throughout the state and the establishment of performance measures for the qualitative review of indigent defense.
(b) In order to demonstrate a collaborative approach to solving criminal justice problems, the commission shall consist of the Executive Director of Public Defender Services, who shall serve as chair, and the following members appointed by the Governor:
(1) One former or retired circuit judge;
(2) Three lawyers, one from each congressional district, who have significant experience in the defense of criminal cases or have demonstrated a strong commitment to quality representation of indigent defendants;
(3) One current chief public defender; and
(4) One nonlawyer with a demonstrated commitment to providing legal services to the indigent;
(5) One person who is a member of an organization that advocates on behalf of people with mental illness and developmental disabilities; and
(6) One attorney with significant experience in the defense of juvenile delinquency and abuse and neglect cases.
(c) The commission shall meet at the times and places specified by the call of the chair: Provided, That the commission shall meet no less than four times each year. Members shall serve without compensation but may receive reimbursement of actual and necessary expenses for each day or portion thereof engaged in this discharge of official duties in a manner consistent with the guidelines of the Travel Management Office of the Department of Administration.
(d) Of the initial appointments made to the commission, two shall be for a term ending one year after the effective date of this section, two for a term ending two years after the effective date of this section, two for a term ending three years after the effective date of this section. Thereafter, terms of office shall be for four years, each term ending on the same day of the same month of the year as did the term which it succeeds. Each member shall hold office from the date of his or her appointment until the end of the term for which he or she was appointed or until his or her successor qualifies for office. When a vacancy occurs as a result of death, resignation or removal in the membership of this commission, it shall be filled by appointment within thirty days of the vacancy for the unexpired portion of the term in the same manner as original appointments. No member shall serve more than two consecutive full or partial terms and no person may be reappointed to the commission until at least two years have elapsed after the completion of a second successive term.
(e) The appointed members of the commission serve four-year terms that shall coincide with the term of the Governor.
(f) The commission has the following powers and duties:
(1) To develop standards regarding the qualifications and training for public defenders, assistant public defenders and staff;
(2) To explore opportunities related to the training of appointed panel attorneys;
(3) To evaluate, on an annual basis, the compensation and caseloads of public defenders and appointed panel attorneys;
(4) To develop standards for providing and compensating expert witnesses, investigators and other persons who provide services related to legal representation under this article;
(5) To study, monitor and evaluate existing standards for determining eligibility for legal representation under section sixteen of this article;
(6) To study the feasibility and need of creating additional public defender corporations, the activation of public defender corporations and the formation of multicircuit or regional public defender corporations in accordance with the provisions of section eight of this article;
(7) To study the potential for the dissolution of public defender corporations;
(8) To study, monitor, evaluate and make recommendations regarding the training, experience and background necessary for a public defender or panel attorney to competently represent indigent defendants in capital cases; and
(9) To monitor and make recommendations regarding the following activities of the board of directors of each public defender corporation receiving funding pursuant to this article:
(A) The appointment of the public defender and any assistant public defenders pursuant to subdivision (1), subsection (c), section fifteen of this article;
(B) The fixing of professional and clerical salaries pursuant to subdivision (2), subsection (c), section fifteen of this article; and
(C) The removal of any public defender, assistant public defender or other employee for misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance pursuant to subdivision (3), subsection (c), section fifteen of this article.
(g) On or before January 15, 2009 the commission shall report to the Legislature its findings and recommendations on the feasibility and need for the creation of additional public defender corporations; the activation of public defender corporations; the formation of multicircuit or regional public defender corporations; or the dissolution of public defender corporations in accordance with the provisions of section eight of this article.