Arizona attorney to lead public defender office

A man who knows his way around the courthouses in Jackson and Jennings counties has been selected to lead efforts to improve the county’s system of helping those who need legal help for criminal cases.

Alan L. Marshall was named to the newly created position of chief public defender by Jackson County’s three-member public defender board during a brief meeting Friday in Seymour.

The public defender’s office will replace a system in which local attorneys with private practices provided legal representation for those unable to afford an attorney. Those attorneys worked on a contract basis.

Jackson Circuit Judge Richard W. Poynter proposed the public defender’s office as a way to provide people in need of a public defender with more consistent legal help and to reduce overcrowding at the jail by moving cases through the system faster. The state also will reimburse the county 40 percent of the cost of setting up and operating the office.

Marshall, who currently works with the Mohave County Public Defender office in Kingman, Arizona, said it was an honor to be selected for the position considering the number of excellent candidates who applied. At least a dozen people applied for the position, and the public defender board has spent most of October interviewing candidates and narrowing that list.

“I’m looking forward to starting this office,” the 56-year-old said. “It’s a just a great opportunity to be in on the ground floor.”

Marshall is second in charge of an office of 13 attorneys and nine support staff. His new office near the courthouse annex in a renovated doctor’s office in Brownstown won’t be quite that large.

That office is set to open Jan. 1, and Marshall plans to start working Dec. 1. His first tasks will be hiring an administrative assistant to start Dec. 15 and a senior public defender to begin Jan. 1. Two additional public defenders will be added along with another administrative person. The office also will have a part-time investigator.

In announcing the board’s decision to hire Marshall, chairman Mike Jordan talked about why the board decided to select Marshall.

“We had some really good applicants,” Jordan said. “Some of Alan’s strengths are he is from the area, he’s carrying a strong caseload, he has good jury trial experience, he has budgeting experience.”

Jordan said Marshall also was willing to make a long-term commitment.

“… which is really what we are looking for because we don’t want to have to do this every four years,” Jordan said. The board is required to meet with Marshall quarterly but will meet with him monthly during the startup phase.

He said Marshall also has said he’s willing to take on the hard cases.

“That’s very important to us,” Jordan said. “He’s a hands-on person.”

Board member Bruce Wynn said he thought Marshall was extremely qualified because of his 23 years working in various aspects of criminal law.

“I have a great deal of confidence in Alan, and he has a good reputation,” Wynn said. “I think he has a very good reputation with the local court system and the judges in the area.”

Marshall was the Jennings County prosecutor from 2008 to 2014 and before that time had a private practice with offices in Vernon and Seymour. He also was chief deputy prosecutor in Jennings County from 1992 to 1997 and has worked as a pauper attorney in Jackson, Jennings and Scott counties in the past.

Family ties to this area weren’t the deciding factor in his decision to accept the position, but it made a difference, Marshall said.

He and his wife, Kim, have four adult children who live in either central or southern Indiana. His mother also lives in Hayden, and he has a sister in Seymour and a brother who is a North Vernon police officer.

The board, which also includes Joe Thoele, agreed to give Marshall six months to move to the county, which is a job requirement.

“We don’t want him to have to move twice,” Jordan said.

Jordan said anyone interested in the senior public defender position or the administrative position can contact county human resources manager Jeff Hubbard at the courthouse annex, 220 E. Walnut St. in Brownstown.

Alan L. Marshall

Name: Alan L. Marshall

Age: 56

Residence: Kingman, Arizona

Hometown: Hayden

Birthplace: Seymour

Education: 1977 graduate of Jennings County High School, 1981 graduate of IUPUI and 1992 graduate of the Indiana University School of Law at Indianapolis

Family: Wife, Kim; four children, Sean, Kelly, Caitlin and Sam; and two grandchildren

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Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.