Travis County hires inaugural chief public defender

Adeola Ogunkeyede will begin as Travis County's chief public defender April 20. (Courtesy University of Virginia School of Law)
Adeola Ogunkeyede will begin as Travis County's chief public defender April 20. (Courtesy University of Virginia School of Law)

Adeola Ogunkeyede will begin as Travis County's chief public defender April 20. (Courtesy University of Virginia School of Law)

Travis County commissioners announced at a Feb. 4 meeting they had hired Adeola Ogunkeyede to serve as chief of the county’s forthcoming public defender’s office. She will begin April 20.

Ogunkeyede is a lecturer at the University of Virginia law school’s civil rights clinic and the legal director of the Legal Aid Justice Center’s civil rights and racial justice program in Charlottesville. She previously was the director of staff development at the Bronx Defenders.

“This is a very exciting new face for the county, and I’m very excited about her coming here to head up our new public defender’s office,” Commissioner Brigid Shea said.

Ogunkeyede was one of 45 applicants for the position. An oversight group tasked by commissioners to oversee the development of the office interviewed seven candidates and recommended two—including Ogunkeyede—for further interviews by commissioners.

In August, Travis County received a $48 million grant from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission—the largest ever awarded by the state agency—to create a public defender’s office.


Austin is the largest city in the country without such an office, which represents criminal defendants who cannot afford to hire an attorney.

The office will begin taking cases later this year.

When the grant expires in 2024, the office is scheduled to have a 67-person staff—about two-thirds of whom will be attorneys—taking on 30% of indigent defendants.

The remainder will continue to be represented by private attorneys paid a flat fee by the county.

Emma Freer