Public Defender

Public Defender

About Public Defender

The term public defender is primarily used to refer to a lawyer appointed to represent people who cannot afford to hire an attorney in the United States and Brazil. It is also a literal translation of the Spanish-language term defensor del pueblo, which usually refers to an ombudsman office, and is the English-language title of the Jamaican ombudsman. Brazil is the only country where an office of government-paid lawyers, with the specific purpose of providing legal assistance and representation to the destitute, free of charge, is established in the Constitution, although the 1963 US Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright ruled that the Sixth Amendment of the Bill of Rights requires the government to provide free legal counsel to indigent defendants in criminal cases. In civil law countries, following the model from the French Napoleonic Code of criminal procedure, the courts typically appoint private attorneys at the expense of the state.