Chip Wallace is serving as the Toombs Judicial District's new public defender.
The office -- created in the state's Indigent Defense Act of 2003 -- opened July 1 and represents a shift in the way indigent defense is handled.
"Indigent defense really has been hit and miss," Mr. Wallace told members of the Thomson Rotary Club, adding that indigent defense was up to individual counties previously.
Mr. Wallace said the six counties in the Toombs District generated 847 cases last year, 85 percent of them involved indigent clients.
He said he hopes the new centralized office will save counties in the district money. Last year, the counties spent a total of $212,000 on the cases, with McDuffie picking up $109,000 of that tab.