“The right of one charged with crime to counsel may not be deemed fundamental and essential to fair trials in some countries, but it is in ours. From the very beginning, our state and national constitutions and laws have laid great emphasis on procedural and substantive safeguards designed to assure fair trials before impartial tribunals in which every defendant stands equal before the law. This noble ideal cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him.”
Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963)
The Office of the Public Defender was established pursuant to Section 802-B, Hawai`i Revised Statutes, implementing Federal and State constitutional mandates that any indigent person charged with a criminal offense or threatened with the loss of liberty shall be provided with the assistance of legal counsel. The Office of the Public Defender became operational on February 2, 1970 and has been administratively attached to the Department of Budget and Finance since 1980.