2018 Louisiana Laws
TITLE 15 - Criminal Procedure
RS 15:147 - Powers, duties, responsibilities
§147. Powers, duties, responsibilities
A. Except for the inherent regulatory authority of the Louisiana Supreme Court provided for in Article V, Section 5 of the Constitution of Louisiana regarding the regulation of the practice of law, the Louisiana Public Defender Board shall have all regulatory authority, control, supervision, and jurisdiction, including auditing and enforcement, and all power incidental or necessary to such regulatory authority, control, supervision, and jurisdiction over all aspects of the delivery of public defender services throughout the courts of the state of Louisiana.
B. In addition to the powers and duties provided for in Subsection A of this Section, the board shall:
(1) Employ an executive staff as provided for in R.S. 15:150 and regularly evaluate the performance of the executive staff.
(2) Adopt all rules necessary to implement the provisions of this Part as provided in R.S. 15:148 and in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act.
(3) Review and approve the strategic plan and budget proposals submitted by the state public defender, regional directors, where applicable, and district public defenders on behalf of the districts. The board shall consider variations in public defense practices, past practices and procedures, and conditions unique to each district in evaluating the strategic plan and budget proposals on the district level.
(4) Make an annual report to the legislature regarding the state of the board's operations and the status of public defender services it regulates. Such report shall include at a minimum:
(a) Recommendations for all needed changes in the law regarding the board or any regulated activity.
(b) A complete report on the receipt and expenditure of all funds received by the board and the regional offices, where applicable, including district level data.
(c) Comprehensive workload data.
(5)(a) Establish, and modify as necessary, a plan of organization to conduct the business of regulating and controlling the delivery of public defender services under its jurisdiction efficiently and thoroughly.
(b) The plan of organization shall provide for the capacity to:
(i) Administer the granting of contracts.
(ii) Analyze and review investigative and audit reports and findings.
(iii) Provide for enforcement of board rules as is necessary to the efficient and thorough regulation and governance of public defender services under its jurisdiction.
(6) Incur such expenses and obligations, within the fiscal limits available to the board, as are necessary to the efficient and thorough regulation and governance of the delivery of public defender services under its jurisdiction and establish and maintain an accounting system which complies with law.
(7) Approve, prior to its presentation to the legislature and again after appropriation prior to allocation, the budget for the board.
(8) Issue a written response to any formal request from the governor and the legislature or any committee thereof.
(9) Appear before any committee of the legislature upon request of the president of the Senate, the speaker of the House, or the chairman of any legislative committee.
(10) Review any proposal to create permanent staff positions and approve if deemed appropriate.
(11) Prepare and submit to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget on or before March first of each year an annual financial report which outlines the expenditures of local, state, and federal funds for the previous calendar year for review by the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.
(12) Draft, administer, and furnish reporting forms to the district public defender, which request detailed information of the district's workload, resources, employees, and expenditures for the previous fiscal year based on the uniform definition of a "case" as defined in R.S. 15:174(C).
(13) Collect, prepare, and submit an annual report to the legislative auditor.
(14) Administer the DNA Testing Post-Conviction Relief for Indigents Fund as required under the provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure Article 926.1.
(15) Arrange for locations, which have adequate space to accommodate the public, to conduct its meetings.
(16) Adopt rules for the establishment of salary ranges for attorneys and support staff delivering public defender services, taking into consideration variations in public defense practices and procedures in rural, urban, and suburban districts as well as professional experience.
(17) Supervise the activities of staff and apply reasonable controls for the supervision of spending, accounting, and discretionary grants. The board shall seek the assistance of the legislative auditor or an internal auditor to ensure that staff discretion is subject to supervision consistent with the Louisiana Local Government Budget Act, R.S. 39:1301 et seq. The board's supervision shall include reviewing details regarding expert witness funds or other case-specific grants, including the confidential work product of attorneys in litigation, compensation, and records supporting fees of experts and others, and analysis of the efficiency and effectiveness of programs. The attorney-client privilege and confidentiality that applies to counsel in cases shall apply to all board members and staff for the review of case details.
(18) Adopt reasonable procedures in compliance with the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct for the review and preservation of confidentiality of privileged materials during and after litigation, including impressions of counsel, strategy of litigation, and results of expert work and opinion.
(19) Adopt procedures necessary to protect strategic choices and confidential work product of the board when the board considers important matters of spending. However, the amounts and general purposes shall remain public record of the board's decisionmaking process.
C. The board may:
(1) Enter into a contract or contracts, on such terms and conditions as it deems advisable, with one or more attorneys licensed to practice law in this state, a consortia of lawyers, or an independent public defender organization qualified with the United States Internal Revenue Service for an exemption from federal income tax under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code to provide counsel for indigent defendants. The provisions of this Paragraph are subject to the intent of the Louisiana Public Defender Act that district public defender programs shall continue operating within the method of delivery of services in effect prior to April 30, 2007, and the board is prohibited from using its power to contract to change the structure of a local program, delivery method, or to terminate personnel without cause in violation of R.S. 15:165(C).
(2) Establish advisory councils from among Louisiana residents to provide information and guidance regarding needs and concerns of particular localities. Such councils may be established at such times, for such duration, and under such circumstances, as the board deems appropriate.
(3) Accept, receive, and use public or private grants, gifts, or donations, provided that such gifts, grants, and donations are not otherwise prohibited by law or rule.
(4) Employ secretarial, clerical, and other such personnel as may be necessary in the operation of the business of the board and fix their compensation.
(5) Enter into contracts in accordance with law for the purpose of maintaining and operating an office, or offices, and performing the functions authorized by law. The provisions of this Paragraph are subject to the intent of the Louisiana Public Defender Act that district public defender programs shall continue operating within the method of delivery of services in effect prior to April 30, 2007, and the board is prohibited from using its power to contract to change the structure of a local program, delivery method, or to terminate personnel without cause in violation of R.S. 15:165(C).
D.(1) Prior to entering into any contract as authorized by Subsection C of this Section, the board shall provide public notice that a contract is under consideration by the board and shall provide an opportunity for the public to offer comment, regarding the contract, at a public hearing conducted for that purpose.
(2) The notice shall include the name of the individual attorneys, a consortium of lawyers, or an independent public defender organization qualified with the United States Internal Revenue Service for an exemption from federal income tax under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code to provide counsel for indigent defendants, the amount of compensation to be paid, and the nature of the contracted services.
(3) The board shall conduct a public hearing regarding any contract authorized by Subsection C of this Section and provide the public an opportunity to offer comment on the contract.
(4) The public hearing provided for by this Subsection may be conducted at a regular meeting of the board provided proper notice is provided to the public as required by this Subsection.
E. The executive staff, regional directors, and secretarial, clerical, and other personnel directly employed in the operations of the board shall be state employees. All other personnel employed or who serve under contract in a district office shall not be state employees. The Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget may approve other employees hired pursuant to the Louisiana Public Defender Act as state employees upon recommendation of the board.
Added by Acts 1976, No. 653, §1; Acts 1986, No. 94, §1, eff. June 23, 1986; Acts 1994, 3rd Ex. Sess., No. 105, §1; Acts 1997, No. 1361, §1, eff. Dec. 31, 1997; Acts 2003, No. 288, §1; Acts 2005, No. 343, §1; Acts 2007, No. 307, §1; Acts 2008, No. 2, §1, eff. May 24, 2008; Acts 2008, No. 220, §6, eff. June 14, 2008; Acts 2013, No. 175, §1, eff. June 7, 2013; Acts 2017, No. 195, §1.