In 1983, influenced by the Spirit of Justice and the story of Clarence Earl Gideon, Commissioner John Wiley Price was instrumental in leading the charge, by using his platform, presence and influence, to convince the Dallas County Commissioners Court to establish the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office, pursuant to Article 26.044 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

What began with a staff of fourteen, including eight attorneys representing clients in four criminal district courts, two investigators, two secretaries, a receptionist and interpreter, has blossomed into one of the largest Public Defender’s Offices of its kind in the State of Texas.

In all cases, the individuals represented by the Public Defender’s Office have been found “indigent” by the court. A defendant is deemed indigent when he/she does not have sufficient income to afford an attorney for legal representation. If the court finds a defendant is indigent, the court must appoint a public defender or an attorney in private practice who meets the eligibility requirements to represent him/her. Attorneys in private practice are not affiliated with the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office.