The Commission on Legal Counsel for Indigents (CLCI) was legislatively established in 2005 pursuant to §54-61-01, et seq., of the North Dakota Century Code. The CLCI was formed after years of debate over the direction of the delivery of indigent services in North Dakota. The North Dakota Supreme Court and Indigent Defense Task Force sponsored a study conducted by the Spangenberg Group, and from those findings came the impetus to form the CLCI to take charge of the delivery of services.

Prior the CLCI becoming an executive branch state agency in 2005, the program of indigent services for defendants and respondents was administered by the North Dakota Supreme Court. The system consisted of all private contractors who would submit their bills and expenses to the District Judges for approval. The Judges assigned the cases and monitored the contracts. One of the CLCI's goals was to separate the judiciary from the delivery of indigent services and thereby avoid an appearance of conflict for the Judiciary.

The CLCI is governed by a 7 member board appointed by varying entities of the state; the North Dakota Supreme Court, the State Bar Association, the Legislature, and Governor's office all appoint representatives who serve staggered terms. The Commission meets regularly and notice of its meetings is posted with the North Dakota Secretary of State's office.

The agency's administrative office is located in Jamestown, North Dakota. The agency has seven public defender offices located in Bismarck, Minot, Fargo, Williston, Devils Lake, Dickinson, and Grand Forks, North Dakota. Since 2005, the Commission has adopted attorney performance standards for both adult and juvenile cases, adopted agency standards, policies, and forms, and submits a budget each biennium to the Governor and the Office of Budget and Management.

Commission members are:

  • Sen. Scott Meyer    (Member from the Senate)
  • Daryl Dukart            (Member appointed by Governor - County < 10K residents)
  • Mark Friese             (Member appointed by State Bar Assoc. Bd. of Governors) 
  • Rep.Bernie Satrom (Member from House of Representatives)
  • Asmundur Benson  (Member appointed by Chief Justice county < 10K residents)
  • Patrick Bohn            (Member appointed by Governor - County  > 10K residents)
  • Zachary Pelham      (Member appointed by Chief Justice > 10K residents)

If you wish to contact any of the commission members, please call the administrative office at 701-845-8632 for contact information.