HELENA – William F. Hooks of Helena was selected by the Public Defender Commission on Feb. 11 to be the next Chief Public Defender of the statewide office of the State Public Defender. Hooks grew up in Townsend, Mont., graduated from Montana State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1981 and earned his Juris Doctorate from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1984. For several years he practiced law with his father in Townsend.

In 1992, Hooks became the chief attorney in the Montana Appellate Defender Office, the first statewide public defender office. For the next eight years, he represented indigents in appeals and post-conviction proceedings. Notable cases include obtaining a reversal of a death sentence handed down for Ronald Allen Smith and successfully litigating a challenge to a conviction is a sex case that represents Montana’s first exoneration based on the use of DNA evidence.

Since 2000, Hooks has been in private practice in Helena with a heavy emphasis on criminal defense in state and federal courts. During that time he worked with The Innocence Project in litigation, which led to the exoneration of Jimmy Bromgard by the use of DNA evidence. During his career he has been the recipient of several awards.