OPD began the operation of the Multi-County Branch Office Program in 1991. The program consists of nine counties in the south and southeastern part of the state: Adams, Athens, Brown, Fayette, Jackson, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, and Washington. Prior to the Multi-County Branch Office Program, all of the participating counties except Athens did not have a county public defender and used appointed counsel exclusively. Because of rising caseloads and the economic conditions in this area of the state, the appointed counsel system was not efficient.
Under this program, the participating counties have entered into contracts with OPD to provide indigent defense services. OPD in turn contracts with local private attorneys or law firms in the region who provide indigent defense services.
The Multi-County Program has three offices, located in Athens, Ross, and Washington counties. The offices provide indigent defense services to those counties and offer support services to all participating counties.
Attorney Doug Francis directs the program and works out of the Athens Branch Office.