Resource Center For Private Attorneys Appointed To Represent Indigent Defendants

In June 2015, the Louisiana State Bar Association’s House of Delegates adopted Resolution 8 opposing the court appointment of private attorneys to represent indigent defendants in criminal cases. Relying on the appointment of private attorneys to resolve the indigent defense funding crisis in Louisiana is contrary to the interests of the public, the criminal justice system, and clients. Private attorneys often lack the experience and resources to represent indigent attorneys competently. The appointment of private attorneys also may interfere and disrupt existing attorney-client relationships and impose a severe financial burden on the attorney.

The following resources are designed to provide members with information about their ethical obligations when appointed in a criminal case and the process for seeking funds for out-of-pocket costs including expenses for investigators and experts. If an attorney is not capable of providing competent representation due to lack of experience, the attorney is ethically obligated to file a motion seeking to be released from the appointment. If insufficient funding exists to hire the investigators and experts necessary in order to provide competent representation, attorneys should seek to stay the proceedings through the procedures established in State v. Wigley, 624 So.2d 425 (La. 1993) and State v. Citizen, 898 So.2d 325 (La. 2005). If the trial court denies the motion, attorneys should seek appellate review when appropriate, but must at all times comply with the orders of the court and mitigate any harm to the client. 

Before reviewing or using the resources and information provided below, please read and follow this guide: What Private Attorneys Can Do When Appointed To Represent a Poor Person Charged With A Crime. For more information on the state of funding for the Louisiana Public Defender's Offices', please see the following materials:

  1. Louisiana Capital Assistance Center is a nonprofit law office that provides representation to people facing the death penalty in Louisiana 
  2. The Capital Appeals Project is a nonprofit law office that represents indigent defendants sentenced to death in Louisiana and serves as a resource for capital defense attorneys through training and consultations. 
  3. Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana provides direct representation to death-sentenced Louisiana clients in post-conviction; implments a systematic procedure for appointing counsel when a capital client's conviction and death sentence are affirmed on direct appeal; and assists pro bono civil law firms representing capital post-conviction clients
  4. Louisiana Appellate Project provides appellate services for indigent defendants in all non-capital felony appeals in all Louisiana districts 
  5. Innocence Project of New Orleans is a nonprofit law office providing investigation and representation for innocent prisoners serving life sentences in Louisiana. 
  6. Defender Services Program is the social services and outreach division of the Orleans Public Defenders office offering holistic, community-oriented representation and range of supplemental legal/social services to clients of the Public Defenders.
Louisiana State Bar Association
601 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130
(800) 421-LSBA(5722) / (504) 566-1600