Archive October 2017

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Compassion, Client-Centeredness and the Imperative for Self Care

Whether healthy or not, most public defenders carry their compassion for their clients with them all the time.  Client centered representation demands empathy and compassion for our clients and their families.  Sometimes, this emotional investment in clients can come at the expense of the lawyer and the lawyer’s family.  

You Got Problems? Systems Builders Is Here to Help

Systems Builders was created to help public defense offices. Early in the life of NAPD, it became apparent that defenders needed someone to reach out to when in trouble or in need of creative thinking.  A group of public defense chiefs formed together to become the Systems Builders Committee. This committee is now thirteen strong, with the addition of Ed Monahan of Kentucky.

'Defender' Wins Best Documentary at Film Festival

A film highlighting two cases in the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office received the ‘Best Documentary’ award at the Independent Television Festival Sunday. Defender, created by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi and Jim Choi, focuses on Adachi and his team during the racially-charged trial of Michael Smith, a 22-year-old African American man.  Smith was charged with nine counts of resisting arrest after being pulled off a BART train with his girlfriend and wrestled to the ground by officers. The incident, which was caught on police body cameras and commuters’ cell phones, occurred after a white passenger falsely reported Smith had a gun.

Ode to JT

Forgive me if JT’s case seems a fantastic story. The myriad details of his wrongful conviction and quest for justice - for himself and others - are far richer than I can possibly describe. I know this in part because of the years I’ve spent talking, planning, and working with JT to pursue justice for other wrongfully convicted men like him – and the many others who could be next. 

Berthiaume v. Smith Summary

The National Association for Public Defense (“NAPD”), in conjunction with the ACLU of Florida and Lambda Legal, recently played an instrumental role as amici curiae in protecting and advancing the rights of the LGBT community.

New Podcast Episode from Aider & Abettor

In the latest episode of Aider & Abettor (available on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, BuzzSprout), Avi and Sajid are joined by retired Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Ron Del Pozzo, someone who they both appeared in front of during their public defense careers before the Judge’s retirement.

Court Watching in Nashville, TN (an ABA Report)

This report outlines what court observers learned when they visited Nashville’s General Sessions Courts in September 2016. In both Courts 1A and 3A observers witnessed the failure of Nashville’s judges to inform defendants adequately of their right to a lawyer and to determine if defendants’ waivers of counsel are “knowing, voluntary and intelligent.” As a result, it is doubtful that the judges’ conduct can be reconciled with Tennessee’s Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires in Rule 1.1 that “[a] judge shall comply with the law.” 




January 23, 2018: In response to US Attorney General Jeff Session's reversal of prior policy on the imposition of fines and fees for criminal defendants, NAPD submitted the following letter on behalf of the public defender community. You can read the letter HERE

January 17, 2018: The 2018 NAPD Investigators Conference and 2018 Social Workers & Sentencing Advocates Institute (March 26-29, 2018 in Denver, CO) are now at full capacity and closed for registration. A wait list is being developed.

November 28, 2017: NAPD has uploaded videos of the presentations from the 2017 NAPD Workloads Conference in St. Louis (held November 17-18). Members can access these valuable presentations on MyGideon by logging into their NAPD account.

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.