In 1973, the New Mexico Legislature enacted the New Mexico Public Defender Act to meet the State’s constitutional obligations to provide counsel to indigent persons charged with crimes in New Mexico state courts. The Act provided for a Public Defender structure with state appropriated funding and a centralized administration.
In 2012, the Citizens of New Mexico voted to move the Law Offices of the Public Defender (LOPD) under the Judiciary to be overseen, guided and supported by a newly created Public Defender Commission. In 2013, the Public Defender Commission formed and appointed the first Chief Public Defender under a new independent format. Since then, the LOPD has been undergoing a transformation into a career law firm.
The LOPD’s current operating budget for FY 15 is over $44.5 million hiring over 406 staff including 221 attorneys and contracting with approximately 160 private attorneys to represent over 70,000 cases each year. Representation of clients includes misdemeanor, juvenile, and felony cases, through appeal and post-conviction proceedings, if necessary. In addition, we have statewide mental health and capital crimes divisions that provide specialized representation.