Special Workgroups

NAPD currently convenes the following special workgroups: Strike Force, Ethics Counselors, and the 2017 Executive Leadership Institute Working Group 

The mission of the NAPD Strike Force is to support offices, office leaders, or office staff/contractors in diverse situations of a limited or ongoing challenge, or when zealous advocacy causes a risk of sanction due to a lack of independence from the judiciary, the prosecution or funding sources. Upon request, Strike Force members offer mentorship, facilitate the exchange of resources, and lend the support of the National Association for Public Defense to local jurisdictions in order to ensure the delivery of effective right to counsel services.

The First Principle of the American Bar Association Ten Core Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System is: Independence. "The public defense function, including the selection, funding and payment of defense counsel, is independent." Without independence, public defenders' ability to provide high quality, ethical, and conflict-free advocacy is threatened, thus undermining the constitutional mandate for states to provide attorneys to defendants who qualify as indigent.

The Strike Force has been active in numerous jurisdictions across the country. In particular, the Strike Force has worked to promote independence in Minnehaha County (Sioux Falls), SD; Monroe County (Bloomington), IN; Hamilton County (Cincinnati), OH; Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), PA; Hinds County (Jackson), MS; and Jefferson County (Birmingham), AL.

Strike Force Members:

The Ethics Counselors are available to NAPD members as a resource in the area of legal ethics and professional responsibility, particularly relating to the unique challenges faced by public defenders and assigned counsel in the representation of indigent clients.
The Counselors prepare and recommend NAPD positions on best practices and draft formal ethics opinions for issuance by the NAPD Steering Committee. Additionally, the Counselors are developing ethics training, such as webinars and CLE programs that focus on ethical issues and dilemmas that arise in the course of criminal defense practice. Eventually, the Counselors will broaden their scope to provide individual and program members of NAPD with information on professional responsibility rules and requirements; guidance on specific ethical inquiries; and independent consultation and confidential advice on problems or questions concerning ethical conflicts and professional conduct in legal and disciplinary matters.
In December 2014, the Counselors released NAPD’s Formal Ethics Opinion 14-1. The opinion addresses the confidentiality of client information when defense team representation includes social workers and other non-lawyer professionals whose licensure is affected by statutory or professional mandatory reporting obligations. NAPD’s review of the applicable rules of professional conduct and other pertinent authorities concluded that social workers and other healthcare professionals, as well as other non-lawyer professionals who are members of the client’s defense team, may not report or disclose any confidential client information or privileged communication without the express contemporaneous permission of the lawyer for whom they are working on behalf of the client.
In March 2016, the Counselors released Formal Ethics Opinion 16-1 that addresses the circumstances under which defense counsel may be required to turn over documents, records, or other material or objects having potential evidentiary value to the prosecution or law enforcement. NAPD’s Opinion explains how and when defense counsel’s duties are triggered under the applicable rules of professional conduct, as well as under other legal and ethical authorities. 

In August 2016, the Counselors issued Formal Ethics Opinion 16-2 concerning access to witnesses by defense counsel under the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, specifically Rules 3.4 (fairness to opposing party and counsel) and 4.2 (the “no-contact” rule).  The opinion focuses on the circumstances in which lawyers can, and cannot, communicate with witnesses and others who may be represented, including those employed by a represented organization or governmental entity.  In particular, the opinion deals with the availability of professional staff at mental health facilities operated by the state to counsel representing the liberty interests of patients/clients that have been involuntarily committed to those facilities pursuant to a civil commitment statute. In addition to examining the MRPC, including relevant commentary, the opinion reviews applicable case law and other authoritative sources that address the issues involved in the scenario presented.
Currently, the Counselors are working on a variety of issues relating to standby counsel that may result in an ethics opinion or a “best practices” policy paper for use by defender offices.
If you’re an NAPD member, regularly check the “Ethics” page on MyGideon, which is dedicated to ethics and professionalism resources.

Ethics Counselors:


The 2017 Executive Leadership Institute Working Group was created by the Education Committee to develop NAPD's Leadership Institutes. In July 2015, the group hosted the NAPD Executive Leadership Institute. In March 2016, NAPD hosted the NAPD Leadership Institute for Managers' & Supervisors'. All materials from NAPD's Leadership Institutes are available to members on MyGideon. You can view the curriculum for the 2015 Executive Leadership Institute HERE and the curriculum for the 2016 Managers' & Supervisors' Leadership Institute HERE
2017 Executive Leadership Institute Working Group Members:


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

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. Registration closes Septemebr 3.
This one of a kind conference is developed through surveys of the registrants.   You have a say in what sessions are offered and will have multiple options during the conference.
Click here to watch as the schedule develops based on your suggestions.
Click here to see the faculty list. 
Click here to register for the Investigator Conference Track.
Click here to register for the Social Worker/Sentencing Advocate Conference Track.
Click here to make a hotel reservation at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.

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

January 17, 2018: The 2018 NAPD Investigators Conference and 2018 Social Workers & Sentencing Advocates Institute (March 26-29, 2018 in Denver, CO) are now at full capacity and closed for registration. A wait list is being developed.

November 28, 2017: NAPD has uploaded videos of the presentations from the 2017 NAPD Workloads Conference in St. Louis (held November 17-18). Members can access these valuable presentations on MyGideon by logging into their NAPD account.