MPD has been on the cutting edge of public defense since its inception in 1971, with the goal of providing quality legal representation for people living in poverty. Formed as a non-profit law firm, it contracts with the State of Oregon for indigent defense services. MPD was the first public defender organization under this system. In Multnomah County, it was formative in creating one of the first drug courts in the nation and had some of the first alternative sentencing advocates in the nation. MPD is currently involved in a harm reduction diversion program, a “treatment first” program to de-felonize and divert all illegal drug possession cases, a Clean Slate program to retroactively remove fines and fees, a Justice Reinvestment project that shifts the discussion on presumptive prison cases to the needs of the defendant, and a Community Law office that expands the definition and goals of public defense. In the adjacent community of Washington County, MPD has been at the forefront of protecting basic constitutional rights and tirelessly advocates for a fair and just system.
MPD is a 501(c)(3) non-profit law firm that provides public defense, including criminal cases from misdemeanors to capital murder, juvenile cases from delinquency to dependency, mental health cases from civil commitments to mental health courts, and specialty projects from drug courts to community court. Responsible for more than 15,000 cases a year. MPD has the primary public defense contracts in Multnomah and Washington Counties as well as the largest capital defense contract in the state.
MPD is also dedicated to building a holistic model in which MPD is a community-based resource, providing a broad array of legal services to low-income individuals for the purpose of improving outcomes like long-term stability.
Staff is comprised of more than 145 attorneys, legal assistants, investigators, alternative sentencing advocates, social workers, front office staff, data integrity specialists and executive administration.