LPDB Complaint Policy

The following policy was approved by the Louisiana Public Defender Board, effective May 28, 2009.

PURPOSE OF POLICY

The purpose of the following policy is: to ensure the delivery of public defender services in accordance with the standards promulgated by the Louisiana Public Defender Board; to establish a method of facilitating the exchange of information concerning quality of representation among clients, public defenders, District Defenders, and the Louisiana Public Defender Board; and to monitor complaints involving the delivery of public defense services.

NOTICE

Each District Defender or Program providing client services promptly shall provide each client with written contact information of appointed counsel, including address and phone number. The contact information for the district public defender, including the identity of the District Defender for that office, shall be included in this notice. A copy of the client complaint policy shall be posted in the District Defender office.

PROCESS FOR COMPLAINTS

Clients or their representatives who have complaints shall be informed that only written complaints will be accepted. Any public defender who receives a complaint from a client or representative of a client is encouraged to provide a form to the complainant. LPDB will prepare a suggested form for use by defenders.

Any complaint from a client promptly should be referred to the District Defender, who is responsible for investigating the complaint and handling it in accordance with the policies of the Louisiana Public Defender Board as well as any local policies of the District Defender.

COMPLAINTS

Complaints from clients concerning representation by a non-conflict public defender and directed to the District Defender or supervising attorney will be evaluated for merit by the District Defender. Each complaint shall be maintained confidentially and any action taken by the District Defender should be memorialized.

District Defenders shall report complaints made about them and their responses to the Louisiana Public Defender Board. Complaints made about conflict contract attorneys shall be forwarded to the Louisiana Public Defender Board in any case in which the District Defender represents a co-defendant. Each complaint shall be maintained confidentially and any action taken should be memorialized in writing.

District Defenders and conflict public defenders should respond in writing to every received written complaintĎ even if only to acknowledge receipt of the complaint Ď to the complainant.

COMPLAINTS FROM JUDICIARY OR REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CLIENT

District Defenders promptly shall respond to complaints from members of the judiciary or representatives of public defender clients. The District Defender is responsible for investigating the complaint and handling it in accordance with the rules and policies of the Louisiana Public Defender Board. Responses to complaints by family or other representatives shall be made to the client.

COMPLAINTS AGAINST NON-ATTORNEY DISTRICT STAFF

District Defenders should respond to complaints from public defender clients against any employee of the Public Defender Office by adhering to the procedures laid out in this policy.

COMPLAINT POLICY OF LPDB-SUPPORTED CONTRACT PROGRAMS

A Program other than a District Defender office that provides legal services to indigent defendants and receives any financial support from the Louisiana Public Defender Board shall develop and adopt a written policy for handling client complaints and shall provide a copy to the Louisiana Public Defender Board.

COMPLAINTS RECEIVED BY THE LOUISIANA PUBLIC DEFENDER BOARD

Written complaints that are directed to the Louisiana Public Defender Board will be forwarded to the District Defender in the appropriate district, along with a letter acknowledging receipt of the complaint and advising the complainant that their complaint has been forwarded to the appropriate District Defender.

RECORD KEEPING:

District Defenders should maintain non-confidential records, on a calendar-year basis, of the number and nature of all complaints against all non-conflict public defenders and the action taken█if any█in summary form or by keeping copies of complaints and responses in files for each contract or staff attorney. Upon written request, the information shall be reported to the Louisiana Public Defender Board.

Conflict public defenders and District Defenders who receive complaints about themselves should maintain a non-confidential record, on a calendar-year basis, of the number and nature of all complaints against them and the action taken█if any█in summary form or by keeping a file of all complaints and responses.

Notwithstanding this provision for the notification of complaints in a non-confidential manner, District Defenders and conflict public defenders shall file each complaint in the appropriate client file, including█but not limited to█the nature of the complaint, the identity of the complainant, the identity of the attorney or staff involved in the complaint, copies of correspondence sent in response to the complaint, and all action taken in response to the complaint.

COMPLAINTS TO THE OFFICE OF DISCIPLINARY COUNSEL

District Defenders shall notify promptly the Louisiana Public Defender Board of all complaints to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed against a public defender in his or her district, including the nature of the complaint, the identity of the complainant, and any disposition.

All public defenders are required to report promptly█to the District Defender█any ethical complaint filed with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel made against them by any complainant. The nature of the complaint, the identity of the complainant, and any disposition shall be included in that notice.

The Louisiana Public Defender Board hereby acknowledges the exclusive supervisory authority of the Louisiana Supreme Court over the law licenses of all attorneys in the state, including public defenders. The Board also presumes that all attorneys working as public defenders understand their obligations to report to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in appropriate circumstances.

SUPPORT

The Louisiana Public Defender Board and staff are available to support the handling of client complaints at the request of the District Defender or individual conflict public defenders and to assist District Defenders and conflict public defenders in the circumstance that any complaint records are sought as public records.