About Us

Dedicated Legal Professionals

Public defenders are trained and dedicated legal professionals who are committed to shedding light on the individual experience and humanity of their clients. They work on teams of professionals from different backgrounds who bring their combined talent, education, and experience to find a path forward for the client even when facing the worst accusations. These teams are specialists in the field and are experienced in supporting clients and their families who are going through the worst moments in their lives.

Establishment of the Public Defender's Office

The Colorado Office of the State Public Defender was founded in 1963 as a part of the “Colorado Defender Act.” Upon initial creation, the office was comprised of four trial offices covering the entire state: Denver, Brighton, Pueblo, and Durango. The agency was staffed with approximately 48 defenders: One director, one deputy director, 15 attorneys, 15 “secretaries,” 10 investigators, and 6 legal interns.

In 1969, the General Assembly passed the Administrative Re-Organization Act. The Office of the State Public Defender was created through the enactment of Senate Bill 1969-125 and became an independent agency in 1970 organized under the judicial branch of government. The establishment of independence from political influence is a core principle that allows the agency to provide client-centered, zealous defense to its clients. Our office grew to 12 offices covering the 22 judicial districts and the courts of appeal and 72 staff members.

Our First State Public Defender

The first State Public Defender was Rollie Rogers. A native of Las Animas, Rollie took his job with the dead-certain belief that poor people deserved the best possible defense, and that defense should be excellent regardless of where in the state they stood accused. Rollie enticed young, fiery, talented attorneys to his program who were eager to work hard without regard for financial gain. At the time of its inception, OSPD was not staffed with investigators, much less social workers and paralegals.

After Rollie’s retirement in 1978, leadership of the agency has changed hands only six times.

  • 1969 – 1979 Rollie Rogers
  • 1978 – 1979 John Purvis
  • 1980 – 1982 Greg Walta
  • 1982 – 1999 David F. Vela
  • 2000 – 2006 David S. Kaplan
  • 2006 – 2018 Douglas K. Wilson
  • 2018 – Current Megan A. Ring

The OSPD Today

Today OSPD manages a budget of $155 million with 1100 staff consisting of 577 attorneys, 167 investigators, 113 paralegals, 154 admin, 23 social workers and 66 centralized staff. The agency is projected to handle 190,000 cases during Fiscal Year 2024.

Our Core Tenets and Beliefs

  • As an agency, we expect that the investigators, paralegals, social workers, core staff, and lawyers within an office will consistently collaborate as equally valued members of a team to achieve as close to the client’s desired outcome as is possible.
  • We expect that all employees will interact with their colleagues, and clients in a manner that reflects an attitude of respect and professionalism.
  • When engaging with other criminal justice stakeholders and client’s families and/or friends, defenders will seek to creatively and expertly promote the client’s expressed wishes about case resolution while being consistent with the defender’s ethical obligations.
  • We believe that investing in our staff by providing training that is focused on the intentional cultivation of legal knowledge and refinement of skills, brings the best results for our clients.
  • We also believe that when a defender applies creativity, critical thinking and preparedness to their clients’ cases, even when the results are not those hoped for, that the defender is successful.
  • Without reservation, this agency believes that our employees, in all scopes of work, are our most valuable resource. The OSPD is committed to cultivating inclusion and equity for all employees.
  • Further, the OSPD recognizes that those working in indigent criminal defense carry a heavy burden on behalf of their clients which can undermine the employees’ health, well-being, and ability to sustain. OSPD is committed to supporting employees in identifying coping strategies, building resilience, and connecting with community resources to support wellness.
  • Vertical, client-centered representation allows for defenders to build trust with their clients and makes it possible to work their client’s case with an awareness of short and long-term goals.