Healthy New Jersey

Office of the Public Defender


The NJOPD is directed by the Public Defender of New Jersey, who is appointed to a five-year term by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate.  Currently heading the agency is Jennifer N. Sellitti, a career Public Defender. 

The central management office of the NJOPD, located in the Hughes Justice Complex in Trenton, houses the Public Defender and Assistant Public Defenders, who coordinate and oversee the work of the trial regions, appellate offices, and special units.  The Division of Administration is also housed there.

The current statewide staff of the NJOPD includes trial attorneys, investigators, appellate attorneys and hundreds of support staff members. The NJOPD also maintains a "pool" of private attorneys who can be called upon to accept cases that, because of conflicts or other reasons, staff attorneys cannot handle.  Pool attorneys are independent contracting state vendors. 

The Public Defender formulates overall policy and directs administration of all programs.  Each regional office is headed by a Deputy Public Defender, who supervises caseloads, maintains private-attorney pools and supervises reports to the main office on case dispositions.  Assistant Deputy Public Defenders - those who try the cases - are assigned to regions based upon the caseloads of each region.  They perform many duties as part and parcel of this work, including but not limited to interviewing witnesses, filing appropriate legal motions, and visiting clients who are incarcerated.

Serving alongside the attorneys in each region is a corps of highly trained investigators who perform many duties including, but not limited to, witness and client interviews, service of subpoenas and collection of information relevant to client representation. Public Defender Investigators also provide cost-effective in-house polygraph testing.

Despite having regional Public Defender staffs regularly outnumbered by prosecutors' staffs by ratios as high as 2-to-one or more, the NJOPD has maintained consistently high case-disposition rates.

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