Mission, Principles, and Guidelines

Mission and Principles

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”

U.S. Constitution, Amendment VI –
December 15, 1791

The Missouri Public Defender System (MSPD) is the organization responsible for providing legal representation to all indigent citizens accused of or convicted of crimes at the levels of the State Trial Court, Appellate Court, Missouri Supreme Court, and United States Supreme Court.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Missouri State Public Defender System is to provide high quality, zealous advocacy for indigent people who are accused of crime in the State of Missouri.

The lawyers, administrative staff, and support staff of the Public Defender System will ensure that this advocacy is not compromised.

To provide this uncompromised advocacy, the Defender System will supply each client with a high-quality, competent, ardent defense team at every stage of the process in which public defenders are necessary.

Fundamental Principles of Missouri Defenders

Image of the U.S. ConstitutionWe are committed to excellence. We dedicate our energy to providing our clients the highest quality representation and to preserving and defending the Bill of Rights.

Our foremost priority is the best interest of our clients. We respect the individual human worth and dignity of each client.

Our commitment to excellence is realized by providing opportunities for education and professional growth. We are committed to making each Missouri Defender a competent and successful member of the defense team.

As Missouri Defenders, we share a spirit of camaraderie and support for one another. We take pride in the Missouri Defender system and in the importance of what we do.

We believe each of us is unique and capable of making significant contributions. We expect and encourage meaningful participation throughout the system.


MSPD Guidelines for Representation (May 2021)

Missouri State Public Defender Guidelines for Direct Appeal (August 5, 2021)

Missouri State Public Defender Guidelines for Post Conviction (PCR) Representation (February 5, 2022)

Best Practices For Representation in Juvenile Proceedings (October 1, 2019)

MSPD Guide To Mental Health Evaluations for Competence to Proceed and Responsibility for the Charged Offense (February 8, 2016)