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Profile: ernie.lewis

Ernie Lewis received his undergraduate degree from Baylor University in 1969, a Masters of Divinity from Vanderbilt University in 1973, and a Juris Doctoris (J.D.) from Washington University in 1977. He was a VISTA Volunteer in Minnesota in 1970. He was with the Department of Public Advocacy from 1976 until 2008 in several different capacities, including appellate lawyer, local assistance branch manager, directing attorney of the Richmond Trial Office, and Regional Manager for the Central Kentucky Region. He was appointed Kentucky Public Advocate in 1996, overseeing the statewide public defender system, and served in that capacity until 2008 when he retired from state government. Since 1985, he has been on the faculty of the National College of Criminal Defense located at Mercer Law School in Macon, Georgia. He served for two years as Chair of the American Council of Chief Defenders from 2006-2007. He has worked on indigent defense issues with various groups in Georgia, North Carolina, Minnesota, Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, and Louisiana. In 2000, he was named Outstanding Lawyer by the Kentucky Bar Association. In 2007, he was given the Champion of Indigent Defense Award by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. In 2008, he was given the Chief Justice’s Special Service Award. He received the Department of Public Advocacy’s Professionalism and Excellence Award in 2003 and the Nelson Mandela Award in 2009. He is now active in teaching public defenders, consulting, representing an occasional client, and advocating for the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers before the Kentucky General Assembly. Since January of 2014, he has been serving as the Executive Director of the National Association for Public Defense.

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NAPD News

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.

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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