Profile: mark.stephens

Mark Stephens was elected Public Defender for the Sixth Judicial District for an eight-year term in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1990, and was re-elected in 1998 and 2006. He practiced law in the private sector for ten years before committing to public defense services. He has dedicated his public defender career to building the Knox County Public Defender's Community Law Office (CLO) into a national model of client-centered, holistic representation. He has previously served as President of the Tennessee District Public Defender's Conference and Chair of the Tennessee Supreme Court's Indigent Defense Commission. Nationally, he serves on the Board of Gideon’s Promise (formerly the Southern Public Defender Training Center). In September 2013, he assumed the role of vice-chair of the National Association for Public Defense. He is a member of the American Bar Association and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. On the state level, Mr. Stephens is a member of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Tennessee Bar Association. On a local level Mr. Stephens is a member of the Knoxville Bar Association and the Knoxville Defense Lawyers Association. Since 2004, he has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee College of Law, where he teaches Trial Advocacy.




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