The Commission and the Office of Indigent Defense were established by Act 164 of 1993, effective July 1, 1993. The Office operates pursuant to §17-3-310, et seq. of the South Carolina Code of Laws, 1976, as amended. Effective July 1, 2005, the Office of Appellate Defense became a division within the agency.
The Commission on Indigent Defense, through the Office of Indigent Defense and its divisions, and in cooperation and consultation with other state agencies, professional associations and other groups interested in the administration of criminal justice and the improvement and expansion of defender services, establishes and monitors programs and services for legal representation to indigent defendants charged with criminal offenses in the courts of the state. The agency also oversees the payment to court appointed attorneys for certain legal services performed on behalf of indigent clients in the Family Courts of the state.
The Appellate Defense division of SCCID handles appeals on behalf of indigent clients and consists of a staff of eight attorneys.
The Capital Trials division within SCCID handles capital cases, statewide, frequently partnering with outside counsel appointed by the court.
The Office of Indigent Defense establishes criteria for determining indigency and qualifications for services, establishes guidelines for court-appointed attorneys in representing indigent clients, and administers distribution of funding for indigent defense. Additionally, the office establishes and supervises training programs for public defenders and staff across the State, and oversees a central reporting system of statistical data in the delivery of indigent defense services.
The Commission on Indigent Defense is comprised of 13 members:
- 9 who are appointed by the Governor:
- 1 representative from each of the four Judicial Regions
- 5 representatives from the S.C. Bar
- 2 retired judges, including a retired circuit judge and either a retired family court judge or a retired appellate judge, appointed by the Chief Justice of the S.C. Supreme Court
- 1 representative of the House Judiciary Committee
- 1 representative of the Senate Judiciary Committee, appointed by their respective Committee Chairman
The Chairman of the Commission on Indigent Defense is elected by the Commission from its membership for a two-year term.