Amy Morton has a post on S.B. 139. The bill, which has passed the legislature, will move the Georgia Public Defenders Standards Council from the Judicial Branch to the Executive Branch.
I frankly haven’t thought a great deal about it, but it seem to be a bad idea. The public defenders are, like district attorneys, officers of the courts. They are put in place to honor judicially interpreted and enforced requirements to provide defenders for individuals accused of felonies. They really don’t have any connection to the executive branch as they are a judicial creature.
So why put them in the Executive Branch, which has a primary duty of enforcing laws and not defending individuals accused of breaking the laws the Executive is enforcing?
UPDATE: In the comments, Rep. Lindsey explains the move and points out the Georgia Public Defenders Standards Council supports the move due to an inherent conflict of interest in the public defenders being directly a part of the judicial system. He writes:
In a criminal case, it will be for the courts to decide if a criminal defendant received an adequate defense from our indigent defense system. Therefore, there is an inherent conflict of interest for the judicial branch to be first overseeing the operation and budget of the Council and subsequently ruling on the adequacy of its actions.
Thanks for clearing it up and it does appear the Governor should sign the bill.