StoryThe Metropolitan King County Council today gave its unanimous approval to the appointment of David Chapman as the director of the Office of Public Defense, the county agency responsible for the legal services provided to indigent defendants.
“King County’s partnership with private legal agencies to provide constitutionally mandated public defense for the indigent will be well served by the experience that David Chapman brings on both sides of the courtroom and the gavel,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, Chair of the Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee and prime sponsor of the motion appointing Chapman. “Our citizens will benefit from the service of a public defender who is respected by attorneys and judges alike, and who has experience with many issues in the criminal justice system, particularly with alternatives to incarceration.”
“Mr. Chapman is an outstanding choice for the office of public defense and we look forward to working with him,” said Committee of the Whole Chair Jane Hague. Chapman was interviewed by the Council in the Committee of the Whole.
“Because defendants are entitled to an attorney regardless of their income or status, public defense plays a crucial role in the criminal justice system,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett, Vice Chair of the Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “I look forward to working with Mr. Chapman to ensure that the underserved populations that depend on public defense receive the assistance they deserve.”
Indigent legal defense services in King County are coordinated by the King County Office of Public Defense (OPD), which is a division of the County’s Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS). To provide those services the County contracts with four non-profit agencies:
• Associated Counsel for the Accused (ACA);
• Northwest Defenders Association (NDA);
• Society of Counsel Representing Accused Persons (SCRAP); and
• The Defender Association (TDA).
As the director of OPD, Chapman will be responsible for administering those administers and for preparing an annual budget for the County’s public defense program. In addition, OPD is responsible for maintaining a list of lawyers, known as the Assigned Counsel Panel, who are available to handle cases that the four agencies cannot accept because of a conflict of interest.
“I look forward to working with the, Executive, Councilmembers , Public Defense Providers and Criminal Justice stakeholders in maintaining and improving our public defense services,” said Chapman. “King County has always demonstrated leadership in Public Defense issues. It is a privilege to work with and support our public defenders.”
Before his appointment, Chapman was working in the private sector as a criminal defense attorney. A University of Puget Sound (now Seattle University) Law School graduate, Chapman has also been the Managing Director of Associated Counsel for the Accused (ACA) in Seattle and a judge Pro-Tem in Pierce County and King County District Courts. Chapman has also worked as a prosecutor in the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office.