Public Defender Task Force


Public Defender Task Force

The Public Defender Task Force was created by Mississippi Code Section 25-32-71 in 2000. The Task Force is charged by statute to:

  • Make a comprehensive study of the needs by circuit court districts for state-supported indigent defense counsel, examining existing public defender programs, including indigent defense provided in the youth courts. Reports shall be provided to the Legislature each year at least one month before the convening of the regular session.
  • Examine and study approaches taken by other states in the implementation and costs of state-supported indigent criminal and delinquency cases.
  • Study the relationship between presiding circuit court and youth court judges and the appointment of criminal and delinquency indigent defense counsel.

Mississippi Supreme Court Presiding Justice James W. Kitchens is chairman of the Task Force, and Demetrice Williams of the Public Defenders Association is vice-chair.

Other members of the Task Force are: AndrĂ© de Gruy of the Office of State Defender; Circuit Judge Prentiss Harrell; Kevin Lackey, director, Administrative Office of Courts;  District Attorney Hal Kittrell, Mississippi Prosecutors Association;  Special Assistant Attorney General Jerrolyn Owens; Tanisha Gates, Magnolia Bar; Jennie Eichelberger, Mississippi Bar;  Steve Gray, Mississippi Association of Supervisors; Rep. Mark Baker; Rep. John Read; Sen. Hob Bryan;  and Sen. Eugene “Buck” Clarke.