Frequently Asked Questions

How does Sacramento County provide indigent defense representation in adult and juvenile criminal cases?

Sacramento County has chosen to provide primary representation through a county Public Defender office, currently directed by Public Defender Paulino Duran, and staffed by attorneys and support staff who are county employees.

Sacramento has chosen to provide secondary (conflict and overload) representation through a county Conflict Defender office (Conflict Criminal Defenders) currently directed by Executive Director Theresa Huff, and staffed by support staff who are county employees.  Legal representation is provided by private criminal defense attorneys who are members of the Bar Association's Indigent Defense Panel, and who are assigned to cases by the Executive Director of Conflict Criminal Defenders.

What is the Indigent Defense Panel?

Under the terms of a memorandum of understanding between Sacramento County and the Bar Association, the Bar Association is responsible, through a sub-committee (the Indigent Defense Panel Committee) for recruiting, classifying, and providing peer review oversight for the attorneys who are assigned by CCD and paid by the County, to provide indigent criminal defense representation.

Who is appointed to a criminal case when a defendant is indigent and cannot retain counsel?

If the Judge determines that a defendant qualifies for the appointment of counsel, the Public Defender will be appointed. 

If the Public Defender declares a conflict, or an overload, Conflict Criminal Defenders will be appointed. The Public Defender and Conflict Criminal Defenders are the two county departments that provide indigent defense representation in Sacramento County.  The only difference is that while the Public Defender will assign a staff attorney to the case, Conflict Criminal Defenders will assign a private attorney, who is a member of the Indigent Defense Panel.

What are the primary responsibilities of Conflict Criminal Defenders?

Conflict Criminal Defenders is responsible for:

  • Assigning attorneys to CCD cases.
  • Reviewing and auditing attorney claims including substantive work product.
  • Approving and processing attorney claims.
  • Providing on-going training programs for members of the Indigent Defense Panel.
  • Reviewing, approving and processing requests for investigators and experts.
  • Reviewing, approving and processing investigator and expert claims.
  • Working in conjunction with the Bar Association's Indigent Defense Panel Committee to develop and maintain consistent and high standards or panel membership.
  • Providing assistance to the Courts in any area or issue relevant to indigent defense representation.
  • Maintaining a separate (from the Indigent Defense Panel) Sacramento County DNA attorney panel qualified to provide DNA representation in those cases where the Executive Director determines it is necessary.
  • Ensuring that all Conflict Criminal Defender clients are provided with effective representation.
  • Ensuring that all representation provided through Conflict Criminal Defenders is cost-effective.

What do I do if I have a problem or concern about a panel attorney that Conflict Criminal Defenders has assigned to a case?

You can contact Theresa Huff, Executive Director of CCD, hufft@saccounty.net or Kevin Adamson, Chair of the Indigent Defense Panel, adamsonlaw@yahoo.com.