The Office of Public Defender, Atlanta Judicial Circuit (formerly the Fulton County Public Defender Office) was established in 1967 to represent indigent citizens of Fulton County charged with committing a criminal offense and unable to hire an attorney to represent them in a court of law.
In 1985, Director Vernon S. Pitts, Jr., along with 21 staff members continued the quest to serve Fulton County citizens with the mission of ensuring that the constitutional rights of every citizen was protected with solid, legal counsel. In September 2004, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners opted into the Statewide Public Defender System, under the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council. As a result, in January 2005, the office became the Office of the Public Defender, Atlanta Judicial Circuit. With his new title, but same mission, Circuit Defender Pitts, along with 152 staff members in three (3) locations continue this valuable service to the citizenry of Fulton County.
To ensure that all accused, indigent defendants are provided with their guaranteed, fundamental, constitutional rights by providing effective and zealous legal representation.
The Office of the Public Defender is organized into nine (9) legal divisions: The divisions consist of team members made up from a carefully selected group of qualified and talented professionals.
The team consists of:
101 Attorneys, 22 Investigators,
5 Administrators, 15 Legal Assistants, 5 Social Workers
4 Paralegals, 3 Legal Interns
Eight Divisions at a Glance
Non-Complex Case Division- Superior Court
Effective legal representation is provided to clients that are charged with committing specific non-complex cases including drug offenses, theft offenses and property crimes in Fulton County. The cases are placed on a special track and are processed within sixty days from arrest to final disposition. The Non-Complex Division also effectively and zealously advocates for the rights of jail inmates by acquiring bonds, bond reductions, dismissals, performing investigations, and conducting various court hearings from first appearance through final disposition.
Complex Case Division – Superior Court
The Complex Case Division provides constitutionally guaranteed effective assistance of counsel to indigents accused of felony criminal offenses in Superior Court. A minimum of two staff counsel are assigned per division of court to represent Fulton County’s indigent citizens through trial and appeal, if necessary. Representation is mandated under the Georgia and U.S. Constitutions, Amendment 5, 6, and 14.
The Appeals Division provides legal representation to accused indigent citizens convicted of committing a criminal offense in Superior Court. The Appeals Division also provides legal research and trial strategy assistance to trial counsel for various issues of law and fact. Appellate representation is mandated under the Georgia and U.S. Constitutions, Amendments 5, 6, and 14.
Juvenile Court Division
The Juvenile Court Division provides legal representation to indigent juveniles accused of delinquency and status offenses in Juvenile Court. Representation commences at the preliminary hearing and continues through trials and appeals. Representation is mandated under the Georgia and U.S. Constitution, Amendments 5, 6, and 14.
Juvenile Felony assistance of counsel is provided to indigent juveniles who are accused of specified criminal offenses and charged as adults in Superior Court. Representation is mandated under the Georgia Constitution and U.S. Constitutions, Amendments 5, 6, and 14.
The Drug Court staff attorneys provide effective assistance of counsel to indigents charged with drug and drug related offenses in the Fulton County Drug Court. Representation is provided by placing defendants in the Drug Court treatment program and continuous monitoring throughout the 18 months of the program. Representation is mandated under the Georgia and U.S. Constitutions, Amendments 5, 6, and 14.
Mental Health Court
Legal representation is provided to clients suffering with mental health and/or substance abuse problems that are charged with committing criminal offenses. The clients are placed in facilities that are designed to provide treatment and monitoring rather than incarceration.
The Litigation Support Division provides administrative, clerical, investigative, information systems and alternative sentencing services for trial preparation. Indigent representation is mandated under the Georgia and U.S. Constitutions, Amendments 5, 6, and 14.