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NAPD Statement on the Importance of Judicial Independence

NAPD calls upon its members and the legal profession to confront a threat to judicial independence wherever and whenever it manifests itself. Whenever genuine threats to judicial independence arise, whether in the form of an online petition to remove a judge for an unpopular decision or in the form of an intimidating threat from the podium on a campaign trail, the legal community, including public defenders, must call attention to the threat, educate the public and confront the threat individually and collectively.
The National Association of Public Defense (NAPD), an association of over 14,000 public defense professionals, issues the following statement in response to recent events that represent an assault on the fundamental principle that an independent judiciary is critical to a free society:

Canon 1 of the ABA's Model Code Conduct (2007) states that “A judge shall uphold and promote the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.”

NAPD affirms this principle set out in the Model Code.  An independent judiciary is vital to the operation of a fair and impartial criminal justice system in which persons brought before the court can have confidence.  Courts must be free and impartial when reviewing cases and rendering decisions. Judges must be free from outside influences or political intimidation both in considering cases and in seeking the office of a judge. Only judges who are insulated from intimidation and pressure can fairly administer justice. Judges must be free from pressure that they will be fired, sued, recalled, or rendered ineffective in reaction to an unpopular ruling.  Judges who are in a jurisdiction where they are elected must not be looking over their shoulders to determine popular opinion when reaching vital life and death decisions.  Judges must be able to render impartial decisions based upon all the facts when making decisions about pretrial release, when ruling on motions, when making a decision to grant probation or not, and when engaging in sentencing.

NAPD calls upon its members and the legal profession to confront a threat to judicial independence wherever and whenever it manifests itself. Whenever genuine threats to judicial independence arise, whether in the form of an online petition to remove a judge for an unpopular decision or in the form of an intimidating threat from the podium on a campaign trail, the legal community, including public defenders, must call attention to the threat, educate the public and confront the threat individually and collectively.

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NAPD News

December 15, 2018: Registration is now open for NAPD's Spring Events:
  • Executive Leadership Insitute (Frankfort, KY)
  • Train the Trainer (Frankfort, KY)
  • "We the Defenders" Investigators Conference (Biloxi, MS)
  • "We the Defenders" Social Workers/Sentencing AdvocatesConference (Biloxi, MS)
  • Team Mitigation Institute (Atlanta, GA)
Click on Events Tab for more info and to register.
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October 30, 2018: NAPD releases a video about its achievements over the 5 years since forming in November in 2013. This films was coordinated by NAPD Steering Committee Member and San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi and debuted at the Racial Justice Training and 5 Year Celebration in Baltimore, Maryland. You can watch the video HERE

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July 1, 2018: General Registration opens for the “WE THE DEFENDERS” TRAINING CONFERENCE,  November 26-29, 2018, Indianapolis, IN

You can watch a video about the event HERE 

Due to overwhelming demand, NAPD will again offer this comprehensive Investigator and Social Worker/Sentencing Advocate training experience! The program will include one track for Investigators and a separate track for Social Worker/Sentencing Advocates.  Hear from nationally recognized experts who will share their knowledge on a wide range of topics relevant to the work you do each and every day.  Network with other criminal defense practitioners from around the country and find your tribe. 
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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
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