History of the Appellate Defender

In June, 1985, the Board approved the development and implementation of the Appellate Defender Office as a statewide office to represent indigent felony defendants on appeal. The factors precipitating this decision were:

1. the increasing cost of appeals, both in terms of assigned counsel funds in non-public defender districts due to the increase in rates paid and in terms of shortage of personnel in public defender districts;
2. the national recognition of better representation arising from a state appellate defender system;
3. the increasing cost of appeals arising from recent Supreme Court cases and that potential increase in cases due to the imminence of death penalty legislation;
4. the urgent need to curb expenditures by the agency due to the states projected shortfall in revenue and the potential for savings in this program.

The Appellate defender concept had been favored by the 1981 Interim Committee on Ways and Means and the Judicial Council Report of that same year. In addition there was a great deal of support for the concept from educators, judges,
public defenders and members of the private bar at the Boards public hearing on the matter.

A satellite office was opened in FY 1994, in conjunction with the University of Kansas School of Law, to supervise law students preparing direct appeal briefs. The University provides housing, supplies and student labor and the Appellate Defender Office provides qualified supervision to oversee preparation of 25 to 30 direct appeals, depending upon enrollment.