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



MOST RECENT

Public schools cannot require students, teachers, parents, and other staff members or visitors to wear masks after June 4, Gov. Greg Abbott declared in an executive order issued May 18. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Leander ISD 'highly recommends' masks; tax-free weekend tips and more Austin-area news

Read the latest business and education news from the Central Texas area.

School supplies will be exempt from the 8.25% sales tax Aug. 6-8. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
What to know before the statewide tax-free weekend Aug. 6-8

Customers will not have to pay the standard 8.25% sales tax on select clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks under $100.

Photo of a building with solar panels on the roof
Austin Habitat for Humanity's ReStore uses discount home improvement to build communities

The store sells sustainable construction materials, clothes, appliances, jewelry, furniture and the odd novelty item.

The project will cause lane closures between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. from July 29 to mid-August. (Courtesy Austin Corridor Program Office)
Austin begins construction on pedestrian crossing signal on Burnet Road

The project will last from July 29 until mid-August and is funded by the city's 2016 mobility bond.

Photo of the Sobering Center
Travis County moves forward with plans for mental health diversion program at Sobering Center

The program would divert people experiencing mental health crises away from jail and towards supportive services following low-level offenses.

Baylor Scott & White Pflugerville
Ascension, Baylor Scott & White to require all employees be fully vaccinated against coronavirus by fall

Ascension and Baylor Scott & White have announced all eligible employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the coming months. 

Photo of an egg dish
Kerbey Lane Cafe serves the Austin community with 'family feeling'

Since 1980, the cafe has served up breakfast, lunch and dinner at locations around the Capital City.

Austin City Council will convene for a regular meeting July 29, its first since mid-June. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Hall notebook: Council to look at downtown safety, homelessness and budgeting in return from meetings break

The first regular council meeting since mid-June features a packed agenda and opportunity for resident feedback on Austin's proposed budget.

Photo of a hand holding a vaccine vial
As COVID-19 hospitalizations track upward, Austin Public Health renews call for vaccinations

APH also mirrors the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest guidance for vaccinated individuals to wear masks in some circumstances.

The request to table talks regarding designated campsites came one week after city staff detailed two properties that could be used for such an initiative. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Ellis, Harper-Madison call for halt to Austin's 'Band-Aid' sanctioned homeless encampment plans

The East and Southwest Austin representatives shared their thoughts on the process one week after city properties in their districts were tapped as workable encampment sites.

Photo of a woman holding a Pride flag
Austin July and August events: Bat Fest, monster trucks and Pride

A variety of in-person and virtual events are happening around Austin this summer.

Photo of a home with a "just listed" sign in the front yard
A seller’s market in Central Austin drives challenging landscape for buyers

Local experts say a "perfect storm" of construction obstacles continue to restrict home supply.