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Our Mission, Our Values

The mission of the Colorado Office of the State Public Defender is to defend and protect the rights, liberties, and dignity of those accused of crimes who cannot afford to retain counsel. We do this by providing constitutionally and statutorily mandated representation that is effective, zealous, inspired and compassionate.

Our Commitment to Excellence

All Colorado defenders are committed to excellence in the representation of any person accused of a crime. We are committed to ensuring that a person’s financial circumstances do not define the quality of their legal representation. We are committed to treating each person with respect and understanding regardless of the nature or severity of the crime.

While understanding the individual client’s needs and the challenges of their cases remains at the forefront of our client-centered representation, it is essential that defenders understand the law enacted by the Colorado legislature, as interpreted by the Colorado courts. We are committed to ensuring that defenders are educated on a consistent and on-going basis so that their knowledge of all Colorado and relevant Federal law is current and complete. That knowledge gives defenders the ability to make proper and skilled legal challenges in defense of clients.

Commitment to Client-Centered, Multidisciplinary Representation

In providing client-centered representation, defenders seek to understand the individual client’s needs, challenges, and goals in their case.  A multidisciplinary approach to representation is a comprehensive approach to a client’s case that involves a team of trained professionals tackling the facts of the case and understanding the relevant circumstances. OSPD employs a team approach to legal representation and the team of defenders include:

In a multidisciplinary setting, defenders of different specialties bring their talents and diverse perspectives together to find the best outcome for the client.

Commitment to Training

Commitment to the development of excellent client communication, litigation, writing, mitigation, investigative, and appellate skills made Colorado Defenders some of the best in the nation. Our training unit ensures that all Defenders are able to represent each client at the highest level. Because the Colorado Public Defender’s Office is a statewide system, providing standardized and centralized training has always been a priority as it ensures clients across the state receive the same, excellent representation. Over time, our training approach has grown into an on-going framework of robust content and performance-based trainings that assist staff in developing the skills they need to meet their clients’ needs in the context of their criminal case. We currently have three full-time training directors and rely upon our workgroup-specific directors and subject matter experts to build and revise a year-round training curriculum for all workgroups.

Our comprehensive defender training program includes support for all of our team members. Learn about:

Commitment to Diverse and Inclusive Teams

The OSPD includes more than 1,000 team members between our attorneys and support staff. With such a large team, diversity has become one of the greatest strengths. OSPD actively embraces the different perspectives and experiences each person brings to the representation of each client. By leveraging the strengths associated with both our similarities and differences, OSPD is able to achieve greater success in advocating for the constitutional rights and dignity of all clients.

OSPD understands that promoting diversity, equity and inclusion requires the leadership team to prioritize this important aspect of our culture, and the entire team must remain committed to these ideals each and every day. Each plays a vital role in the success of our mission, and diversity elevates our ability to provide the high quality service our clients deserve.

Read more about Diversity Training and Affinity Groups.

Commitment to Career Sustainability and Healthful Defendering

The Colorado State Public Defender recognizes that working in the criminal legal system and defending indigent people accused of crimes often comes with stress, and that the dedicated professionals working on these teams sometimes need support. The OSPD is committed to creating a healthy and resilient group of defenders who have wholesome lives outside of the important work. The OSPD offers a variety of programs like peer support, direct service mental health providers, and various programming. The OSPD leadership also accepts the important responsibility of fighting for more staff to take the load off of overburdened defenders and combatting a criminal legal system that dehumanizes those accused and their advocates.

Commitment to Independence

The statutory mandate of OSPD requires our agency to serve clients independently of any political considerations or private interests, provide legal services to indigent persons accused of crime that are commensurate with those available to non‐indigents, and conduct the office in accordance with the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct and with the American Bar Association standards relating to the administration of criminal justice, the defense function. OSPD teams’ sole focus is on effective representation of the individual client and serving the individual client’s interests, needs and priorities.