Because He Was Wrong on So Much...

I am proud of the fact that the NAPD Steering Committee voted to oppose the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General of the United States.  I am proud that NAPD disregarded the obvious—that in a US Senate controlled tightly 52-48, and in a system where party loyalty and discipline mean more than voting on the merits, it was virtually impossible for Sessions not to become the Attorney General. 

New Study Spotlights Extremely Heavy Workloads in Louisiana's Public Defender System

On February 17, 2017, the American Bar Association and the Louisiana-based accounting and consulting firm Postlethwaite & Netterville released findings Friday of a joint study of workloads of state public defenders in Louisiana.

On Humiliation and Juvenile "Justice"

I looked over and I saw him shaking. I put my hand on his shoulder and said “don't worry – you're going to get out. The judge is going to let you out.” He stared down at his feet. I really didn't know what to do or say. I wanted to just stand up and yell TIME OUT! WE NEED A BREAK. 

Race Judicata - January Issue

As we begin a new year and a new administration, many are reflecting on the ongoing movement to end mass incarceration. Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Projectassessed President Obama's contributions, which included the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, the use of prosecutorial discretion and executive clemency for people charged with federal drug offenses, and easing of barriers to reentry. 

A Morning in Juvenile Court: A Silver Lining to a Haunting Election Day

The DA's office still wants to prosecute my new client as an adult.  But now, Prop 57 requires that they work for that opportunity.  The entire framework has changed. 

Balancing the Scales: Judge Waives Fees for Indigent Defendants

Since winning the election in November 2016, Judge Cummings has already made efforts to balance the scales. He has declared that he will waive all fees for deserving indigent defendants

Legalize Drugs: Divert Addiction out of Criminal Court

He explained that he was not opposed to pleading guilty or serving time in jail if we could convince the judge or Government to offer a lower sentence, but he had other concerns beyond jail time. He needed to get his eyes examined. He was losing his vision and needed cataract surgery. His health insurance was only valid for a few more months. His brother, on the other side of the state, was dying of liver failure. Every time he talked about his brother, his eyes filled up with tears.

Suppressing Criminal Evidence - A Review

Suppressing Criminal Evidence, a new publication from James Publishing, is a massive endeavor of Deja Vishny, longtime Wisconsin State Public Defender. Although titled ‘Suppressing Criminal Evidence' this book is about far more than the practice of filing motions to keep evidence out of court. This is a book about trial practice and client practice: it is a how-to on representing individuals accused of crimes in our criminal courts.

"Exoneration Act" Unfairly Puts Burden on the Innocent

There wasn't a great deal of money at stake and the number of defendants the decision might affect was not large, but I thought the decision was so manifestly unfair that I couldn't just forget it and move on to my next case.  Mr. Madden and Ms. Nelson couldn't get the time back that each spent in prison; the State had to at least give back their money.

The Parable of the Sower: Why We Can't Kill Dylann Roof

We struggle, you and I, with how we separate the violence of the criminal from the violence of the State. By this I mean we know somewhere, deep down, that what repulses us is the inclination to violence, and whether that violence is meted out by some twisted, drug-addled teenager with a host of inter-personal issues or by the Government, we don't really like it.


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