Office of Public Defender, 15th Judicial Circuit

The State of Florida established the Office of Public Defender in 1963 to create a more balanced system of justice throughout the state in response to the Supreme Court ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright. The office provides the opportunity for equal representation of the poor in criminal cases. The state is divided into 20 judicial circuits – Palm Beach County makes up the 15th Judicial Circuit. The Palm Beach County Public Defender’s office also handles appeals to the 4th District Court of Appeals from the 17th Judicial Circuit (Broward County) and the 19th Judicial Circuit (Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee counties). 

Carey Haughwout is your elected Public Defender and is serving her third four-year term that began in January 2009. As the elected official, Ms. Haughwout is responsible for a staff of more than 200 people – 100 attorneys and 100 support staff – who handle the representation of indigent clients. With a budget of approximately $16.8 million, the office is responsible for more than 50,000 cases per year.