Archive October 2016

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Our Ph.Ds. in media criminology mislead:

While most people feel crime is increasing, crime is decreasing. The 2015 FBI data is out. While the 2015 US violent crime rate, a subset of the crime rate, increased by 3% over the last year, the overall crime rate nationally continues to decline. 

Bosse v. Oklahoma: Eighth Amendment Ban on Victims' Relatives' Opinions about what Sentence a Capital Defendant Should Receive has not been "Implicitly Overruled"

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Oct. 11 that lower courts are not free to assume that the high Court has “implicitly overruled” its holding in Booth that the Eighth Amendment bars admission of victims’ family members’ characterizations and opinions about the crime, the defendant, and the appropriate sentence.

Ask Allison - Sore Loser

It took me a minute to even put together what happened because her style was so flippant and it so mismatched the meaning of the actual words she was saying. Like someone announcing, “The cancer has spread to your brain” to the tune of “Happy Birthday.”

Why Does Incarceration = Dehumanization?

I see the two men in the holding cell handcuffed to one another, one urinating in a vile, metal toilet while the other looks away.   I see the nearly dozen inmates linked together by waist chains paraded into the courtroom, a public display of their humiliation.  I smell the pungent, gag inducing odor of the jail, a stench of food and confined human beings, a constant reminder of captivity. 

When Did Defending the Constitution Constitute a Campaign Weapon?

“You’re often the second-most hated person in the county.”  That’s what former Kentucky public defender George Sornberger used to say about representing clients charged with serious felony offenses, including capital offenses, in southern Kentucky.  And it’s true.  

Stand With Them: NAPD's New Podcast

The podcast is called Stand With Them and will explore heroes of the public defense world. I wanted listeners (hopefully, all of you) to feel inspired by the subjects of the podcast, ready and willing to rise up and stand with them, like the true heroes you all are.

Education and Impact Litigation: Advocating for Timely Re-Enrollment

In 2004, The Legal Aid Society of New York, Advocates for Children of New York and Dewey Ballantine LLP brought a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of New York City students ages 7-21 who were detained or placed in custody as a result of involvement with juvenile or adult court systems. The lawsuit, known as J.G. v. Mills, alleged that when these students were released from a court-ordered setting, they were denied timely re-enrollment in New York City schools or were warehoused in alternative settings and provided inadequate educational services. 

Amicus Win: Doe v. Snyder

In a sweeping opinion written by Judge Alice Batchelder, the Sixth Circuit determined that the retroactive application of the residency, in-person registration, and internet disclosure provisions violates the ex post facto clause.  Integral to the court’s decision was the determination that these restrictions are not remedial civil penalties, but instead constitute punishment. 

The Rise of Criminal Court User Fees in North Carolina (Part 3): Making the Machinery of Justice Work for All

For at least the last two decades, the unconscionable rise of costs, fines, and fees in criminal court has led many in the indigent communities around this State and the country to believe that monetary enrichment, not due process, is the goal when the poor are forced to pay for “the machinery of justice.” 

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Establishes a Sixth Amendment Right to a Pre-trial Challenge to Systemic Underfunding of Public Defender Offices

Kuren is most comprehensive ruling on remedial measures under the Sixth Amendment and should be considered a template for litigation in other jurisdictions.  Counsel should also consider corollary theories for remedial measures, including a public defender’s ethical responsibility under state professional responsibility standards not to take more cases than can adequately be defended, a doctrine expressly recognized by the Supreme Courts of Missouri and Florida.  See Pub. Defender v. State, 115 So. 3d 261 (Fla. 2013); State ex rel. Mo. Pub. Defender Commission v. Waters, 370 S.W.3d 592 (Mo. 2012).  
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July 1, 2017: NAPD announces Save the Date for 2017 Workloads Institute, to be held at SLU Law School (St. Louis, MO) on November 17-18, 2017. Click HERE for a brochure with details and faculty!

April 16, 2017: 60 Minutes' Anderson Cooper features the Orleans Public Defenders and NAPD General Counsel in a substantive segment about public defenders' excessive workloads, pervasive injustice, and the obligation of defenders to resist the "conveyer belt" of mass-incarceration. You can watch the compelling segment HERE 


On March 18, 2017 - the 54th anniversary of the Gideon v. Wainright decision - NAPD published its Foundational Principles, which are recommended to NAPD members and other persons and organizations interested in advancing the cause of equal justice for accused persons.