The vote for the reappointment was made during a Friday public meeting of the Public Defender Selection Committee of the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, the committee’s chairman, J. Douglas Stewart said. Committee member Tom Bishop made the motion, which was seconded by Sammy Smith, Stewart said. The vote to reappoint Morris was unanimous.
The action rescinded a previous vote that appointed Morris to a limited term from July 1 to Dec. 31.
The five-member committee, made up of appointees of the governor, local superior court judges, speaker of the house and lieutenant governor, had been asked to withhold making a long-term appointment to the post until this year’s legislative session ended, Stewart said.
Stewart said in a statement that the committee members "believe it is important to give some continuity to the office and to stabilize its leadership for the foreseeable future now that the early kinks have been worked out of the system."
"Also the action approves the excellent work done by our Public Defender’s office which, according to our best information, is being recognized as one of the outstanding operations in the state."
Morris said Tuesday he was "glad I was reappointed, and I think our office has a very important duty to uphold the Constitution and defend the rights of the citizens of this community, and I hope my stewardship will help do that. We have an interested and devoted group of lawyers working toward that end."
Morris oversees a staff of 12 defense attorneys, plus 15 support staffers, who represent indigent defendants who cannot afford to hire attorneys. In 2007 the office handled about 3,000 felony cases.
A graduate of Emory University and the University of Houston School of Law, Morris has practiced law for more than 30 years with a concentration in criminal defense work.