Public Defense Attorneys
The Public Defense has revolutionized the field of criminal law in Israel. This revolution is reflected not only in the increase in the number of individuals eligible for representation by public defenders, but also by the sharp increase in the number of attorneys who engage in criminal law and the significantly improved quality of the services that they provide. These changes have a direct impact on the entire field of criminal law, including private defense.
The training and experience that attorneys accumulate as public defenders help them become more professional defense attorneys and increase their prestige in the private sector as well. As a result, the number of attorneys that specialize in this field that compete for criminal cases of all kinds has grown. This is beneficial for the justice system as well as for the legal profession.
The majority of public defense cases are handled by public defenders that are not directly employed by the Public Defense. These attorneys are selected by the district public defense attorney and are appointed to represent detainees and defendants during arrest, criminal trials and appeals as an integral part of the public defense system in Israel. They work with the administration, submit reports to attorneys and consult with the internal staff at the Public Defense.
Legal frameworks for employment of external attorneys
Section 12 of the Public Defense Act states that:
(a) Attorneys that are not employed by the Public Defense Office and are interested in serving as public defenders shall submit a request in writing to the district public defense office. The district public defender shall compile a list of attorneys that are qualified to serve as public defenders.
(b) The district public defender shall appoint public defenders from the list, though the district public defender may appoint an attorney that does not appear on the list if the attorney has agreed to serve.
(c) The district public defender may choose not to include an attorney on this list or to remove an attorney from the list, if this is deemed necessary in order to guarantee adequate representation for defendants.
(d) According to subsection (c), an attorney may appeal a decision made by the district public defender before an appeals committee appointed by the Minister of Justice.
Joining the list of public defenders
The ability to provide adequate representation for clients of the Public Defense Office is dependent first and foremost on the quality of the attorneys in its registry. Attorneys interested in serving as public defenders shall contact the district public defense office and fill in a request to become a public defender. In addition to providing personal information, the attorney will be required to describe his professional experience, areas of expertise, preferences, and access to the various courts in the district. The forms are then reviewed by the district public defender, who interviews the candidates. The interviews are held as needed by the system and based on the workload and the qualifications of the candidate attorneys.
Appointing public defenders for specific cases
Two primary principles are applied while appointing an attorney:
a. Maximum compatibility between the attorney and the case
In order to implement this principle, all public defense cases are received by the district public defender to begin the process of locating the attorney best suited for the client and the subject matter. The essence of the case is assessed based on the documents that it includes (indictment, request for remand until end of procedures, court transcriptions, etc.), and the skills required of the defense attorney who will represent the client on this specific case. This process must assess the type of case, the characteristics of the client, and the skills required of the public defender. Considerations include the essence of the procedure, the offense described in the indictment, its severity, the court that will be hearing the case, etc. Client characteristics may include native languages, special requirements such as familiarity with mental disabilities, and more. The qualifications required of the attorney are considered based on these parameters, many of which correspond with professional unique criteria used when compiling the list of attorneys. These include the attorney's professionalism, experience, availability, command of foreign languages and more. In addition, significant value is placed on the attorney's preferences as long as these do not conflict with the attorney's skills and qualifications. The public defense policy is that a single public defender will represent a defendant throughout all legal proceedings, including all defense cases that pertain to this client.
b. Equal opportunities for all public defenders found most suitable to represent clients on the same type of cases
In order to implement this principle, cases are assigned while attempting to guarantee equal opportunities for all attorneys found suitable to handle the same type of cases.
All information on this website applies to both men and women.