Lorinda Youngcourt Joins NAPD Steering Committee
30 years in public defense. Starting with capital post-conviction relief at the Indiana State Public Defender's Office, to trial work with the Marion County Public Defender Agency, to private practice doing court-appointed capital cases, to creating the Lawrence County, Indiana Public Defender Agency, and now as Director of the King County Department of Public Defense in Seattle, Washington. Enjoy helping lawyers with continuous improvement through teaching and facilitating trial skills programs such as the National Criminal Defense College and various state and local seminars. The great outdoors and nature – which I enjoy with my three horses, two dogs, and outdoorsy friends –keep me somewhat sane.
Tell the community something about your organization?
The King County Department of Public Defense was born of public defender litigation for pay and benefit parity. In 2013, four longstanding, respected non-profit public defense agencies' employees were hired by the county and unified into one office. The Department prides itself for being well resourced, providing excellent and continuous training to its attorneys and staff, and maintaining caseload standards which allow attorneys to devote the time necessary to provide the highest quality representation.
What are the major problems in public defense today?
Caseloads are critical. Any lawyer spread too thin will be forced to triage her clients. No matter her experience level or commitment, the representation she provides will be less than what the client deserves. Discomfort with the status quo is essential. If public defenders accept high caseloads, pay disparity, and resource deprivation without a strategic fight we are complicit in the systemic oppression of our clients.
How useful has NAPD been for you and your organization?
As an individual and as the leader of two different public defense organizations, I've always been dissatisfied with the offerings of organizations charging annual dues ten times those of NAPD. Started by Public Defenders for Public Defenders, NAPD is a community which keeps us connected, up-to-date, and well educated.
What would you like NAPD to focus on in 2018?
Keep doing what you are doing NAPD!