About Us

Wayne County's Office of Public Defense Services (OPDS) was launched in August, 2020, with the hiring of its Director. The OPDS will manage the County's indigent defense system, including both the public defender office component and the private assigned counsel component of felony cases assigned to criminal defense counsel. Wayne County's approximately 16,000 assignments of counsel are presently allocated to the Neighborhood Defender Service Detroit (25%), and private counsel qualified by the Third Circuit Court to accept assignments (75%). Case assignments, attorney qualifications, and attorney performance review are currently managed by the Court pursuant to Local Administrative Order 2020-01. Management of these functions will continue to transition to the OPDS during 2021, as part of Wayne County's plans for system reform. A key function - approval of defense investigators and experts - was moved to the OPDS in 2020 and is now administered by OPDS attorneys.

The OPDS will also be responsible for developing and implementing plans for compliance with standards of the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC). Approved standards include training of assigned counsel, ensuring counsel at the first court appearance, prompt visitation between assigned counsel and clients, and access to investigators and experts.

The OPDS is funded through annual state grants from the MIDC, as well as funding received from the County.

Office Staff

Robin Dillard-Russaw, Director (See September 22, 2020 Article for more information on the Director)

Viola King, Assigned Counsel Administrator

Neil Leithauser, Defense Experts/Investigators Administrator

Angela Peterson, Defense Experts/Investigators Administrator

Jill Tines, IT Manager

In 2021, OPDS staff is expected to include an Office Manager, Fiscal/Grant Manager, Assignment Coordinator, and Attorney Roster Coordinator.

Contact OPDS: