• National Association for Public Defense
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    "When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty." -Thomas Jefferson
    • That people of color facing criminal charges overwhelmingly depend on public defenders for their constitutional right to counsel, and that virtually every single public defender office in the country is so severely underfunded that it is in a state of crisis is but another manifestation of the inherent racism of the American justice system.

      Our system of justice is broken. It is racially biased to a degree that it is unworthy of public confidence. This lack of confidence is now being experienced on a grand scale in jurisdictions across the country, creating an urgent need to address the many unfair policies that oppress all people of color and every community of color in this country.

    • It seems that the easiest thing for public defenders to acknowledge is that they have too many cases and the hardest thing for them to acknowledge is that because they have too many cases they sometimes fail to provide clients with effective representation. In the recent article “The Truth about the Work and Talent of Public Defense Lawyers,” Andre Vitale argues that even though public defenders have excessive caseloads, through their determination and hard work, they manage to obtain the same outcomes for clients as private defense attorneys. I have heard this belief expressed many times before and believed it myself while working as a public defender. I was convinced that despite my lack of resources and excessive caseload that I managed to effectively represent all of my clients. I was wrong.
    • Washington’s Supreme Court has fully implemented its first in the country court rule on defender standards, including caseload limits. The recent historic Federal Court order requiring two Washington cities to improve their public defense system has had ripple effects across the state and nationally. Across the country, New York State settled a lawsuit against it and agreed to improve public defense services in five counties, contributing millions of dollars to do so.
    • Tim Young and Sarah E. Tuberville contributed a guest commentary to the Denver Post. No matter how unfavorably the public may view a defense lawyer's client — and no matter how heinous the crimes of which that client is accused — it is the lawyer's constitutional and ethical duty is to provide competent representation. Attacks on lawyers because of who they represent clearly undermine this sacred principle. Zealous, effective counsel is vital to ensuring that both the innocent and the guilty receive trials that adhere to constitutional safeguards, that courts and juries are presented with all relevant facts, that errors in the proceedings that could unfairly prejudice the outcome are discovered and corrected, and that lawyers remain scrupulous in the presentation of their cases.

    Contributing Authors

    mutual aid

    Our community includes brilliant men and women with a diversity of specializations, interests, and experiences. NAPD is a collection of individuals dedicated to public defense and the right to counsel connecting directly to share knowledge, brainstorm challenges, and offer support.

    you're the expert

    No one understands public defense better than the thousands of men and women across the country who engage in the work on a daily basis. Through the unified voice of NAPD, we will at last claim our rightful position as experts regarding the right to counsel and the systems designed to provide that valuable right.

    stronger together

    The men and women who dedicate their professional lives to public defense must serve as the catalysts for change. Through NAPD, we will speak with one voice for our clients and their constitutional right to counsel.