Multnomah County Court Requests Assistance with Indigent Defense

Recently, Chief Criminal Judge Cheryl Albrecht reached out to the MBA Board to address an urgent concern regarding the shortfall of attorneys to represent indigent clients facing criminal charges in Multnomah County. This issue has become acute - currently there are people in jail facing criminal charges who are not being represented by an attorney, some for longer than a month. 

There are a number of things MBA members can do to help. Attorneys who have previously been certified to represented indigent clients can contact the Office of Public Defense Services (OPDS) business unit at 503.378.2478. OPDS has offered to place previously qualified attorneys immediately back into active status. Attorneys who have never been certified but have criminal experience can contact OPDS and apply for certification. Attorneys with experience in the Multnomah County criminal system can offer education and assistance to others learning local procedures and practices.

While the reasons for the shortfall are complex, and a solution will ultimately require broader reforms, the brunt is being born by people in jail cells, during a pandemic, isolated from friends and family, unable to advance their interests or ensure their rights are protected. For these people, and their families, the value of any assistance the MBA membership can offer would be immeasurable.

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