House Bill 429 — Public defense commission

House Bill 429 — Public defense commission

by
Parrish Miller
February 17, 2020
Parrish Miller
February 17, 2020

Bill description: HB 429 creates a pilot program allowing the state to take over the duties of the public defender.

Rating: -2

Does it violate the principle of equal protection under the law? Examples include laws which discriminate or differentiate based on age, gender, or religion or which apply laws, regulations, rules, or penalties differently based on such characteristics. Conversely, does it restore or protect the principle of equal protection under the law?

HB 429 creates a public defense pilot program in which counties in the second judicial district may request to participate. Once at least three counties in a judicial district make such a request, "the state public defense commission shall have the authority and responsibility to administer, supervise, and direct the public defenders of the participating counties. …" Once this occurs, "the boards of county commissioners of the participating counties within the second judicial district shall provide the local share of funding to the state public defense commission for provision of indigent defense and related services."

This pushes local money to the state and creates an inequality in how public defenders are funded and who supervises their duties. Only some counties are allowed to participate and it is unclear if such participation requires ongoing consent. Can a county that requested to participate opt out if it finds the results of the program unsatisfactory? The language of HB 429 is unclear.

(-1)

Does it violate the principles of federalism by increasing federal authority, yielding to federal blandishments, or incorporating changeable federal laws into Idaho statutes or rules? Examples include citing federal code without noting as it is written on a certain date, using state resources to enforce federal law, and refusing to support and uphold the Tenth Amendment. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the principles of federalism?

HB 429 also says, "In addition to the state public defense commission's annual budget, after the receipt of written notice, the commission may apply for grants and receive funds for indigent defense pursuant to section 19-862A, Idaho Code, to assist in meeting indigent defense standards and address deficiencies, if any, identified by the commission within the participating counties."

This proposed law would give the public defense commission, and in turn, the state, an open-ended allowance to seek federal grant. This would increase the state's dependence on the federal government and may well give it undue influence over Idaho's criminal justice system.

(-1)

Analyst’s Note: Amendments made to this bill on 2/26 do not change any components of our rating.

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