In 1973, the New Mexico Legislature enacted the New Mexico Public Defender Act to meet the State’s constitutional obligations to provide counsel to indigent persons charged with crimes in New Mexico state courts. The Act provided for a Public Defender structure with state appropriated funding and a centralized administration.
The Department’s current operating budget for FY 14 is over $42 million; Department lawyers handle around 72,000 cases each year. Representation of Department clients includes misdemeanor, juvenile, and felony cases, through appeal and post-conviction proceedings, if necessary. In addition, we have statewide mental health and capital crimes divisions that provide specialized representation.