First federal public defender office in north Alabama

Until recently, northern Alabama was one of only four federal court districts in the nation that did not have a federal public defender. But Kevin Butler becomes the first. His 11-member team of attorneys and staff moved into its downtown Birmingham office Monday. He says the practice will help level the justice playing field.

"There will be an institutional voice for criminal defense, additionally, there will be a centralized bank, for lack of better words, of talent and knowledge regarding criminal federal law," Butler says.

U.S. attorney Joyce Vance often sees Butler on the opposite side of the courtroom. Still, she fully supports his office and its work.

"Will it makes us work harder? It probably will in some areas but that's for the benefit of the people we all serve, and that's a good thing," Vance says.

Butler also opened an office Huntsville. The two will begin taking cases August 1.

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