Missouri State Public Defender


Missouri has a state-wide public defender system organized into three legal services divisions: the Capital Division, which is responsible for death penalty litigation; the Appellate/PCR Division, which is responsible for appellate and post-conviction litigation; and a Trial Division, whose regional and district offices are responsive to the need for indigent trial defense in Missouri's 115 jurisdictions.

There are a total of thirty-six district offices in the trial division of the Missouri State Public Defender System. These thirty-six district offices serve the forty-four judicial circuits. The Public Defender System is authorized to employ approximately 500 lawyers, who currently handle over 65,000 cases a year. Members of the private bar are appointed to represent indigent persons accused of crimes only for cases in which there is a conflict of interest.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Missouri State Public Defender System is to provide high quality, zealous advocacy for indigent people who are accused of crime in the State of Missouri. The lawyers, administrative staff, and support staff of the Public Defender System will ensure that this advocacy is not compromised. To provide this uncompromised advocacy, the Defender System will supply each client with a high-quality, competent, ardent defense team at every stage of the process in which public defenders are necessary.

Fundamental Principles of Missouri Defenders

There are five fundamental principles for public defenders in Missouri:

  1. We are committed to excellence. We dedicate our energy to providing our clients the highest quality representation and to preserving and defending the Bill of Rights.
  2. Our foremost priority is the best interest of our clients. We respect the individual human worth and dignity of each client.
  3. Our commitment to excellence is realized by providing opportunities for education and professional growth. We are committed to making each Missouri Defender a competent and successful member of the defense team.
  4. As Missouri Defenders, we share a spirit of camaraderie and support for one another. We take pride in the Missouri Defender System and in the importance of what we do.
  5. We believe each of us is unique and capable of making significant contributions. We expect and encourage meaningful participation throughout the system.