Archive November 2017

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Baltimore Youth Need Services, Not Prisons

Anyone who has tried to debate a high school freshman knows perhaps one of the world’s universal truths: Teenagers are not rational adults. This simple truism, experienced by parents the world over, is also why children should not be tried as adults. The leadership in the Baltimore City Police Department and State’s Attorney’s Office disagree. They claim that some children are not “regular kids,” but “violent offenders” who should be treated as adults and locked up.

Voices From St. Louis: Workloads Conference Recap

I was present for most of the Workload Conference, in between making sure that all the power points were loaded and that coffee was refreshed.  It was an exciting conference.  All of the presentations and power points will soon be up on MyGideon’s Workload page, which I encourage you to visit. In the meantime, here’s some of what I heard.

My car got broken into...Now what?

 What happens when an advocate becomes a victim? 

NAPD Kicks off Workloads Conference

The National Association for Public Defense (NAPD) will hold its 2017 Workloads Conference at St. Louis University School of Law on November 17-18, 2017. Public defenders from across the nation will gather in St. Louis to address the problem of excessive public defender workloads. It is no accident Missouri was chosen for this conference. 

How to moderate the undeniable lethality of victim impact statements

It was a matter of the Eighth Amendment: the victim impact statement presented in Booth v. Maryland (1987) included family members’ self-described emotional distress, descriptions of the victim, views of the petitioner, and characterizations of the crime itself. The U.S. Supreme Court held that this content “may cause the sentencing decision to turn on irrelevant factors” and its inflammatory nature would encourage an arbitrary, and therefore cruel and unusual, punishment. The lengthy reading in court from religious literature kept by the victim in So. Carolina v. Gathers (1989) – intended to illustrate his moral worth and the worthiness of Gathers of the death penalty – was held by the Court to be similarly arbitrary, in alignment with Booth. Booth had made such evidence inadmissible.

An Interview with Damon Preston, Kentucky Public Advocate

NAPD is pleased to welcome Damon Preston to his new leadership as Kentucky Public Advocate. NAPD. Below is an interview with Damon where  you can learn more about his experience and vision for public defense in his state.

Putting Theory Into Practice

After spending the past three years doing training for investigators, paralegals, support staff and new lawyers, I recently made my way back to trial work. I’ve been back in the trenches for about eight weeks and building my caseload with a mix of clients I meet at first appearances and clients who had other lawyers and are transferred to me.




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.