Start Date: 1/29/2018 12:30 PM EST
End Date: 1/29/2018 2:30 PM EST
National Association for Public Defense
Implicit Bias in the Criminal Prosecution System
January 29, 20187 at 12:30 p.m. Eastern, 120 minutes
Andre Allen Vitale, Assistant Public Defender, King County Department of Public Defense
About the Webinar:
IMPLICIT BIAS IN THE CRIMINAL PROSECUTION SYSTEM
The marginalization of people of color is a force which helps propel the criminal prosecutorial machine. The criminal prosecution system is designed to silence, ignore, and marginalize the people we represent. As public defense lawyers, one of the most critical forces against which we must fight is the negative impact racial injustice and implicit bias have on the lives of our clients. This racial injustice starts with decisions police make regarding where to focus enforcement and who to arrest. It continues with Prosecutors’ charging decisions, affecting their offers which consistently favor the wealthy and those of privilege. The pervasive and devastating effect of racial injustice continues with release and sentencing decisions handed down by Judges. The negative impact caused by bias does not end with these three actors. As public defense lawyers, we are witnesses to the racial injustice that perpetuates in criminal courts and its negative impact on the lives of our clients, their families, and their communities. We recognize these problems and openly discuss them amongst colleagues.
While public defense lawyers understand the devastating impact of racial injustice, too often we choose to remain silent when addressing these injustices in court and in our conversations with prosecutors and judges. This silence must end. As public defense lawyers, we have an ethical and moral obligation to fight racial bias wherever and whenever we see it. At the same time, our focus should not only be fixed on our adversaries biases. For the criminal system to truly be reformed into one of True and Equal Justice; progressive, open minded, and dedicated public defense lawyers must be willing to look internally; to understand those areas where our own biases negatively impact our clients and their families. This presentation will discuss our ethical obligation to fight all bias and why the silence must end now, more than ever. Public Defense is today’s civil rights movement. This presentation will seek to raise awareness of the negative impact of racial injustice caused by our adversaries as well as ourselves. We will discuss strategies for how to push back against and to overcome it. The time to openly fight against bias in the courts and all of its players is now. Because if not now; when. If not us; who ?
About the Faculty:
Andre Vitale previously served as Special Assistant Public Defender, Trial lawyer, and Training Director for 18 plus years at the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office (Rochester, NY). Andre has extensive experience handling the most difficult and complex cases as a trial lawyer having litigated more than 90 jury trials. He has developed an expertise in defending sex cases and challenging DNA evidence. Andre has used the skills and knowledge he gained in the courtroom to develop innovative training programs, designed to help attorneys enhance their legal skills. Through his training programs, Andre seeks to help both new and more experienced lawyers enhance their legal knowledge as well as build confidence in their ability, inspiring them to serve as client–centered, fearless, and relentless advocates. One program he developed which focuses on Defending a Sex Case has been used by the Montana Office of the State Defender, the Missouri State Public Defender’s Office, and the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender to train attorneys in those states. Andre is on the faculty of Gideon’s Promise (gideonspromise.org) and Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Institute Trial Advocacy Workshop. He has also served on the faculty of the Bronx Defenders’ Trial Academy; the Louisiana Public Defender Training Institute; the Litigation and Persuasion Institute (Department of Public Advocacy, Kentucky);, the Trial Litigation Institute (New Jersey State Defender); the ADC Trial Advocacy Program (Colorado State Defender), Legal Aid Society’s (NYC) DNA Defense College, and the Litigation Talent Academy in King County before joining their team as Assistant Training Director. Andre is both a presenter and frequent blog contributor for the National Association of Public Defense (publicdefenders.us), where he also serves as a member the Racial Justice Committee. He is a former Board Member with the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NYSACDL), having served as Vice President, as well as Chair of both their CLE and Indigent Defense Committees. Due to his passion and commitment to client–centered representation, Andre has received the Kevin Andersen Award by the New York State Defender’s Association (NYSDA) and the Denison Ray Award by the New York State Bar Association. In addition to his legal accomplishments, Andre has finished nineteen marathons.