202: Using the Carrot and the Stick to Improve Texas Public Defense w/Geoff Burkhart
Today, Hunter is continuing his coverage of public defense in Texas by speaking with former Executive Director of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission and current Executive Director of the Texas Fair Defense Project, Geoff Burkhart. Under his leadership, there was a massive expansion of institutional public defender offices around Texas, but it happened in an extremely unorthodox manner. Normally, public defender offices spring up in the urban areas and slowly make their way to the more rural parts of the state, but in Texas, that model has been a bit backwards. With the grant money TIDC provided, rural communities jumped at the chance to have institutional public defender offices, while some large metro areas (Tarrant County in particular) still relied on a contract base private attorney system. Why that happened, what Geoff learned, and why he left TIDC to work at the Fair Defense Project are just a few of the topics explored on today’s episode!