Kevin Flaherty, Chief Public Defender
Floor LL of Butler County Government Center
124 West Diamond Street
P.O. Box 1208
Butler, PA 16003
The Butler County Office of Public Defender ensures the indigent’s right to counsel as guaranteed by the United States Constitution, through the Sixth Amendment, and the Constitution of this Commonwealth, through Article I, Section 9, which provides:
In all criminal prosecutions the accused hath a right to be heard by himself and his counsel, to demand the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to meet the witnesses face to face, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and in prosecutions by indictment or information, a speedy public trial by an impartial jury of the vicinage; he cannot be compelled to give evidence against himself, nor can he be deprived of his life, liberty or property, unless by the judgment of his peers or the law of the land. The use of a suppressed voluntary admission or voluntary confession to impeach the credibility of a person may be permitted and shall not be construed as compelling a person to give evidence against himself.
Pa. Const. Art. 1, Section 9.
The indigent’s right to counsel in Pennsylvania is codified in the Public Defender Act, 16 Pa.C.S.A. § 9960. The Office of Public Defender is statutorily mandated, and furnishes legal counsel to any person charged with an indictable offense who is unable to obtain counsel for lack of sufficient funds. The indigent’s right to counsel is further mandated under Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure Rule 122. As such, the very essence of the legal work performed within the Butler County Office of Public Defender is directly rooted in the constitutional provisions ensuring that an indigent person cannot be denied legal counsel whenever their personal liberty is at stake.
Since its establishment, the Public Defender’s Office has traditionally defended the majority of criminal cases filed within Butler County. The attorneys employed within the Office of Public Defender solely practice criminal law and offer legal counsel to qualifying indigent clients. All attorneys are admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania before the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, the Pennsylvania Superior Court, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.