Public Defender

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Who Are We
The Office of Public Defender, Atlanta Judicial Circuit (formerly the Fulton County Public Defender Office) was established in 1967 to represent indigent citizens of Fulton County charged with committing a criminal offense and unable to hire an attorney to represent them in a court of law.

In August 2021, Maurice G. Kenner was appointed Circuit Public Defender (CPD) of the Office of the Public Defender for the Atlanta Judicial Circuit by the Executive Director of the Georgia Public Defender Council. CPD Kenner is only the third person to receive this appointment. CPD Kenner, along with the entire staff of the Office of the Public Defender, serves Fulton County citizens with the mission of ensuring that the constitutional rights of every citizen are protected with zealous legal counsel. CPD Kenner and well over 200 staff members in three (3) locations continue this valuable service to the citizens of Fulton County.

Our Mission
To ensure that all accused, indigent defendants are provided with their guaranteed, fundamental, constitutional rights by providing effective and zealous legal representation.

The Office of the Public Defender is organized into eight (8) legal divisions. The divisions consist of teams of experienced, qualified, and talented professionals. The team consists of Attorneys, Investigators, Administrative Assistants, Legal Secretaries, Legal Specialists, Information Technology Specialists, Paralegals, and Social Workers.

Public Defender


Non-Complex Division – Superior Court

Represents the client at their Initial Appearance Hearing held within 24 hours of their arrival at the Fulton County Jail. The hearings are held to determine probable cause and to consider bonds. All-Purpose and Preliminary Hearings are held fourteen (14) days later. The same attorney handles cases from arrest to disposition in nine weeks.

Complex trial Division

Provides legal counsel after indictment to indigent adults in Superior Court accused of committing complex felony criminal offenses such as murder, rape, and armed robbery at arraignment and trial

Probation Revocation Division

The Probation Revocation Division represents clients against allegations that they have violated the terms of their probation sentences, even when the alleged violation is of a technical rule. When the State arrests someone for an alleged probation violation, there may be little chance for bond, so the client may have to wait in the jail for their case to be resolved—even when the alleged violation is of a technical rule, like when to report or pay fines. To ensure that the Public Defender’s Office can quickly respond to those clients’ needs, Probation Revocation Division lawyers are stationed at the jail, instead of in the Public Defender’s main office.

Appeals Division

The Appeals Division represents clients who have been convicted of crimes in their motions for new trial and on their appeals to the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court of Georgia. The Appeals Division also supports the other divisions by providing legal research and advice on trial strategy to maximize the outcomes for all the Office’s clients.

Juvenile Court Division

The Juvenile Court Division specializes in the protection of children who are charged with delinquent and other offenses in the Juvenile Court of Fulton County through release, trial, and appeal. In addition, a special section of the Juvenile Court Division, the Parent-Attorney Division, helps parents who have been accused of neglecting or depriving their children. 

Juvenile Felony Division (SB440)

The Juvenile Felony Division’s clients comprise a special class of children (SB440) whom the State has charged with adult crimes in superior court. Special laws and Constitutional Rules pertain to children charged as adults, and the Juvenile Felony Division’s lawyers focus on protecting the rights of those most-vulnerable clients.

Accountability Courts: Drug Court, Behavioral Health Court, and Veterans Court

Fulton County has three accountability courts, which are special programs designed to meet the underlying needs of certain classes of clients: Drug Court; Behavioral Health Court; and Veterans Court. The Office of the Public Defender has lawyers who specialize in helping clients assigned to each of these programs.

  • Drug Court
    The Drug Court staff attorneys assist clients charged with drug and drug-related offenses. Clients in the Drug Court program receive continuous monitoring and treatment for 18 months to address substance-abuse issues, and their lawyers are there to help them every step of the way.
  • Behavioral Health Court 
    Though they are charged with crimes, the clients in the Behavioral Health Court program all have mental-health or substance-abuse issues that underlie their behavior. Rather than incarcerate those clients, Behavioral Health Court allows them to seek treatment, with the support of their lawyers, while being monitored and held accountable for their actions.
  • Veterans Court
    A significant issue is the number of veterans whose circumstances, like homelessness, substance abuse, and mental illness, draw them into the criminal-justice system. Veterans Court is an 18 – 24 month pre-and-post-adjudication program for veterans who are charged with felonies. With the help of their lawyers, veterans in this program receive treatment, case management (including job training, housing, and transportation assistance), drug testing, community supervision, and peer support, all while the Court monitors their progress on a monthly basis.

State and Magistrate Court Division

Lawyers in the State and Magistrate Court Division represent clients who are charged with misdemeanor offenses in those courts. Though they face less severe consequences than clients who are charged with felonies, clients in the state and magistrate court have the same rights to trial and appeal as everyone else charged with a crime. Our lawyers help steer their clients through the often complex processes in those courts, from their first appearances in court through arraignment, motions, and trial. Misdemeanor clients frequently enter accountability court programs, like Mental Health and DUI Court, where their attorneys help them secure better outcomes than if they had gone to trial.

Additionally, the State and Magistrate Court Division represents clients who are charged with county-ordinance violations involving animals (Environmental Court), as well as clients who are issued citations for misdemeanor offenses.

Litigation Support

The Litigation Support Division provides administrative, clerical, investigative, information systems, and alternative sentencing services for all the other divisions, ensuring that every lawyer has the resources they need to help every client. 

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