Northern Mariana Islands

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands funds and administers all indigent defense services. A government agency and the judiciary administer services. There is no commission providing oversight of services.

The territorially funded Office of the Public Defender (PDO) administers almost all adult and juvenile trial and appellate representation across the islands. PDO has one office in Saipan staffed by public defenders, which provides representation across the commonwealth’s populated islands (Saipan, Tinian, and Rota). If PDO has a conflict or is otherwise unavailable, judges appoint private attorneys from a list of all active licensed attorneys in the commonwealth. The court must give priority to volunteer private attorneys, but any licensed attorney may be appointed.

The governor appoints the OPD chief public defender. The commonwealth does not have a commission to oversee the public defender. The judiciary maintains the list of private attorneys, sets the hourly rate, and reviews and approves billing for private attorneys.

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Questions Open/Close

Is there a right to counsel in the Northern Mariana Islands?

What are the required qualifications of the Office of the Public Defender chief public defender?

In which branch of government does the indigent defense system reside?