So why did MCPD evolve as it did while so many
other indigent-defense programs around the country
faced (and still face) an unrelenting battle for adequate resources, workload control and often their
As MCPD approached its 50th anniversary, I
looked back at its history to get an idea of how it
came to be, in my opinion, one of the best public
defense offices in the country. The Office Opens
MCPD is one of the oldest and largest county public
defender offices in the country. It began operation on
September 1, 1965, just two years after the U.S.
Supreme Court’s decision in Gideon v. Wainwright
established the right to appointed counsel for indigent individuals accused of felony offenses.
The office began with six attorneys, including its
director, Vernon Croaf. It had two investigators, three
secretaries, and three interviewers, and was assigned
about 1,700 cases in its first year. Today, the office has
221 attorneys, a total staff of 457, and is assigned
more than 30,000 cases per year.
The office has had only four directors in its 50
years: Croaf (1965–1969); Ross Lee (1969–1987);
Dean Trebesch (1987–2001); and me.
The office has long been dedicated to providing
high-quality representation to our clients. One of our
basic values is that what happens to a person in our
criminal justice system should never depend on how
much money he or she has. Another is that, by protecting the rights of our clients, we protect the rights
of all members of our community. And we believe
that, by striving for dispositions in cases that are effec-
MARICOPA COUNTY PUBLIC DEFENDER’S OFFICE
50 YEARS OF SERVICE BY JIM HAAS