A former Tulsa federal public defender, Susan M. Otto, and
a Chicago public defender, Stephen J. Knorr, have been appointed
federal public defenders for Oklahoma.
The selection process for the $110,000 positions began last
Otto and Knorr were chosen from more than 150 applicants
across the nation.
Otto, Oklahoma City's acting federal public defender since
1991, will serve the Western District court, based in Oklahoma
Knorr, a staff attorney in the federal defender office in
Chicago since 1980, will serve the Northern District, based
in Tulsa, and the Eastern District, based in Muskogee.
Oklahoma has had one public defender, David Booth, now with
a Tulsa law firm, for all three U.S. court districts since
1985 when the office was established. The 10th Circuit appellate
judges decided in 1991 to add a second defender.
The case load justified a second defender, said Eugene J.
Murret, circuit executive for the appellate court. A second
defender will decrease the amount of travel required and
increase efficiency, he said.
Otto, an Oklahoma City native, is a 1980 graduate of Oklahoma
City University Law School. Before joining the public defender
office in 1986, she was a staff attorney for the Oklahoma
Department of Health from 1980-82, a legal assistance to
chief judge Charles Wilson of the Oklahoma Court of Appeals
from 1982-84, and a law clerk to U.S. District Judge Ralph
G. Thompson of Oklahoma City from 1984-86.
Knorr, 40, is a 1979 graduate of Northwestern University
Law School in Chicago.
Otto and Knorr were among several candidates recommended
to 10th Circuit judges by a five-person panel that included
Booth, the chairman; Sondra Fogley Houston, Tulsa; Creekmore
Wallace, Sapulpa, and Merle Gile and Mack Martin of Oklahoma
By law the federal defenders can represent up to 75 percent
of the state's indigent federal defendants. The office average
is about 63 percent. The other defendants have been represented
by court-appointed counsel.
The public defender in the Eastern and Northern districts
will have three staff attorneys.