Archive December 2016

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Public Defender Vows to Keep Fighting for Universal Representation

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi vowed to keep fighting for due process for immigrants in detention after the mayor struck a deal that fell far short of the $5 million plan to provide attorneys to all immigrants facing deportation.

Stand with Taryn, Stand for Justice

Two years ago an investigator named Taryn Blume for the Orleans Public Defenders was indicted for impersonating a peace officer. Next week, this case goes to trial. Through our social media campaign, and in other strategies that you may develop, we encourage you to stand with Taryn and with NAPD as we resist the New Orleans District Attorneys’ effort to compromise the right to counsel and the zealous investigations and investigators that justice requires!!

For the Children

Good things come to those who wait.  The Ohio Supreme Court reminded us it is the holiday season and that there are still gifts to be unwrapped.  Two of those gifts were delivered today and appropriately, they are for the children.  

TIDC Releases Studies on Caseloads

The reports set standards for defense attorney caseloads in a single state, albeit a large and diverse one. Texas has 254 counties. Each is a separate criminal justice system in terms of funding and local practices for the appointment and compensation of counsel.

Heroic Work to Prevent Missouri Execution

This week the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals set the briefing for review of a federal district court’s arbitrary denial of funding that has resulted in deprivation of meaningful assistance of counsel for a mentally impaired death row inmate.

Listen to the Second Season of Serial

I actually found the less popular second season, telling the story of captured American soldier Bowe Bergdahl to be far more interesting and more connected to my work as a public defender. Bowe Bergdahl was an enlisted man in the Army who walked away from his military assignment in Afghanistan only to be captured by the Taliban and held prisoner for five years.

Race Judicata

We’re more powerful than we think. Robinson urged advocates in the audience to recognize both their own power and the infinite potential of each client they represent, declaring that “the talent that goes into our prisons is a national security emergency.” In many cases, he reflected, outcomes for clients turn on the courage of the defense attorney.

Welcome to Public Defense

Indigent defense fortifies the wall between “us” and “them,” defender and client, public servant and the pitied. It makes it easier to treat our clients in ways that violate our ethical and constitutional duties by, for example, carrying grossly excessive workloads or engaging in meet-and-plead practices. Given this othering effect, we should abandon the word indigent.

Congress Passes the Justice For All Act: Provisions Relevant to Your Office, Clients and Cases

Over the last decade, however, we have seen a handful of federal bills and programs that seek to serve the defender community, albeit in a limited capacity and nowhere on par with the kind of support provided to the many other elements of the criminal justice system. The most recent iteration of this is the reauthorization of the Justice for All Act (JFAA) – S. 2577, now before President Obama for his signature.

Lawsuits in Houston

There are now two lawsuits filed in the federal courts for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, involving the practices of detaining and releasing criminal defendants in the Harris County courts.
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On December 28, 2016, NAPD published its Open Letter to Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro for his prosecution of Orleans Public Defender investigator Taryn Blume. A bedrock principle of our criminal justice system is that every citizen accused by the government of a crime starts with the benefit of the doubt – with a presumption that they are in fact innocent.  That right becomes meaningless if we do not uphold the equally important right of every citizen-accused defense team who fights for her cause; who digs for evidence of her innocence; who exposes the government when it hides that evidence.  The legitimacy of our criminal justice system depends upon defense lawyers and defense investigators doing their jobs, and doing them well, without fear of reprisal from a prosecutor acting more like a bully than the champion of truth and justice he is supposed to be.


Last Chance to Register! The NAPD Executive Leadership Institute (ELI-2017) is almost full will will be held from 3:00 pm on April 2 through 11:45 am on April 5, 2017 at the Department of Public Advocacy training facility in Frankfort, KY. You can see more information and registration details HERE