Aurora, CO

Aurora to discuss privatizing public defender’s office

David Heitz
Photo byCity of Aurora

The Aurora City Council will discuss contracting out the public defender’s office.

Council member Dustin Zvonek said during Saturday’s budget session that he will bring forth a resolution that would allow the city to put out a request for proposals from private vendors to run the office.

Public Defender Elizabeth Cadiz reminded the council that it is governed by a commission, “which insulates us from actions like this.” She asked the council to consider issues of quality when deciding.

Zvonek said last year the council directed the city manager to look into the costs of having a private contractor provide public defender services. He believes a private company could do it for less than $2.5 million, which the city budgets for the office. Zvonek said “the majority of cities” do contract out their public defender offices. Zvonek said he has been working with acting City Manager Jason Batchelor to craft his resolution, which should be coming to City Council soon.

The only increase Cadiz asked for in her 2024 budget was to expand a 30-hour per week mental health professional to 40 hours per week. She said 30 hours are paid for by a grant which is temporary but which the city received for a third year.

The mental health professionals can certify court litigants or jail inmates as displaying psychosis and place them on MH-1 holds. That means they can remain in the custody of a hospital for up to three days. Cadiz said it makes the court and the jail safer because someone is on staff and available during regular business hours who can immediately have an unruly litigant or inmate committed to a hospital.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

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