All data is current as of 2013, unless otherwise noted.
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How the right to counsel is administered and structured

State commission: yes (2) – one for primary system & one for conflict system
Branch of government: judicial

Right to counsel services in Colorado are divided into two areas: primary representation; and conflict representation.


For primary representation, the Colorado Public Defender Commission is an independent, five-member body, in the judicial branch, that selects the chief attorney for the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender. That office is responsible for implementing and enforcing the commission’s policies and for all administrative and support functions throughout its regional offices. The central administrative office is located in Denver.

For conflict representation, the Alternate Defense Commission is a fully separate independent, nine-member body, in the judicial branch, overseeing the Office of the Alternate Defense Counsel. That office implements and enforces the commission’s policies throughout the conflict system in the state.

The state supreme court appoints all members of both commissions.

How the right to counsel is funded

Percentage of state funding: 100%
Percentage of local funding: 0%
Percentage of alternative funding: 0%

Both the primary and conflict systems are funded entirely by state general fund appropriation.

The methods used to provide public counsel

The Office of the Colorado State Public Defender administers 22 regional defender offices across the state, each staffed with full-time attorneys and substantive support staff.

In cases of conflict, direct services are provided by private attorneys appointed to individual cases and overseen by the Office of the Alternate Defense Counsel.


Legal authority

Colorado Constitution, art. II, § 16

Colorado Revised Statutes, §§ 21-1-101 through 21-1-106 (state public defender), and §§ 21-2-101 through 21-2-107 (alternate defense counsel)

Access to the laws of Colorado is also available at the free public access site of LexisNexis.

Source of data: original research conducted by Sixth Amendment Center staff.