In 2002, the ACLU, acting on behalf of indigent criminal defendants from seven counties throughout Montana, brought suit alleging widespread unconstitutional deficiencies in the public defender system. A settlement was reached in which the Montana Attorney General agreed to advocate with the ACLU for a statewide indigent defense system. Legislation was passed in 2005 establishing such a system. On July 1, 2006 the new public defender system began, under the oversight of the newly established Public Defender Commission.
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