Services for those who need legal representation in the Uintah Basin but can’t afford it is getting a boost after Daggett, Duchesne and Uintah counties received nearly $600,000 in grant money.
The counties have received $592,850 from the Utah Indigent Defense Commission to restructure the system currently used to provide legal counsel for defendants who don’t have the money to retain private counsel, according to a press release from Uintah County Managing Public Defender Lance Dean.
Daggett and Uintah counties will receive a combined $477,850 in grant funds and Duchesne County will receive $115,000.
The goal of the new model is to more fully protect the 6th Amendment rights of indigent defendants in Utah's 8th Judicial District, Dean said. The grant allocates money for hiring additional public defenders for district and juvenile court and a defense investigator, along with the ability to employ expert witnesses when needed, Dean added.
Uintah County is currently building its new program and hiring additional contract attorneys, Dean said. Duchesne County will retain its current indigent defense contract with Morrison & Morrison L.C., which is in its first year of a three-year contract.