Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1977 NO. 6 >

(1) A county may establish a public defender's office without forming a public defender district pursuant to chapter 36.26 RCW.  (2) If a public defender district is formed pursuant to chapter 36.26 RCW, the public defender and other lawyers appointed thereunder will be county employees and not independent contractors.  (3) Because chapter 36.26 RCW contains no provision for the removal of a public defender appointed thereunder during his term of office, it is unclear whether he can be so removed; accordingly, clarifying legislation is recommended.  (4) A public defender district created pursuant to chapter 36.26 RCW may be terminated at any time by the process of repealing the county ordinances or resolutions by which the district was created.