Systems Builders

NAPD, through its Systems Builders Committee, works to strengthen the quality of public defense delivery systems throughout the country. The Systems Builders Committee is comprised of current and retired defender leaders, public defender board and/or commission members, and system advocates representing a range of experiences and perspectives on public defense issues. 
Our mission is to assist leaders who are building excellent, client-centered public defense programs, through training, consultation, collaboration, and on-site technical assistance.

You can see the following reports from the Systems Builders Committee below:

Harris County Misdemeanor Report (July 2021)
Assessment of the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Public Defender Division (February 2021)
Assessment of the Texas Office of Capital and Forensic Writs (April 2018)
RPDO: Making a Difference in Texas (January 2017)
Louisiana's 16th JDC Public Defender's Office: Technical Assistance Report (July 2016) 

Members of the committee have provided intensive work in a number of jurisdictions, including several statewide systems and numerous county-based programs. Additionally, the Committee has developed a four-part webinar series oriented towards training boards and commissions. These webinars, scheduled between May-November 2016, are available in archive in MyGideon. The series includes the webinars:
The State of Indigent Defense
Using the American Bar Association's Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System to Build a Quality Public Defense Organization
Practical Pointers and Principles for Boards and Commissions 
Creating Statewide Minimum Standards for Indigent Defense 
Systems Builders recognizes the needs of an organization are often unique and varied depending on the design of the public defender delivery system as well as the constitution of its staff. As such, the Systems Builders Committee approach is to tailor its support to a wide range of audiences, including boards, commissions, defender offices, state defender associations, practicing lawyers, investigators, managers, leaders, community groups and funding authorities.

The Committee has published a number of position papers: "Qualifications of those Selecting Public Defense Leadership"; "Qualifications of those Serving as Public Defense Leadership"; "NAPD Policy Statement on Proper Professional Space, Equipment, Confidential Communications with Clients, Supporting Services for Public Defense"; and, "NAPD Policy on Active Supervision of the Representation of Clients".

Further, the Systems Builders Committee is prepared to offer technical assistance for the "Merit-Based Selection of a Public Defense Leader." 

As part of our overall efforts to strengthen the quality of public defense delivery systems, the Systems Builders Committee has established a Mentors Program for Executive and Manager Leadership. This program is available to any new or veteran public defense leader who seeks a mentor to address professional and personal challenges in creating or enhancing a client-centered best practice public defense program. Mentors will be arranged after consultation regarding office size, structure, delivery system and challenges to address. If you are interested, please send an email to NAPD Executive Director Lori James-Townes.

Systems Builders also supports a "Virtual Cup of Coffee with a Colleague" which is an informal opportunity to get together brainstorm, seek advice, vent or offer assistance.  
For more information on resources available from NAPD or to discuss the availability of in-person or virtual  support, please contact Heather H. Hall, Engagement Director of NAPD.

Committee Members:

LaMer Kyle-Griffiths, Chair - Santa Barbara County Office of the Public Defender (Santa Barbara, CA)

Nancy Bennett - Committee for Public Counsel Services (retired) (Boston, MA)
Bob Boruchowitz - Seattle University Law School
Bennett Brummer - Miami-Dade Public Defender (retired) (Miami, FL)
Twyla Carter - Legal Aid Society (New York, NY)
Fred Friedman - Minnesota Board of Public Defense (retired)
Fern Laethem - Sacramento Conflict Criminal Defense Lawyers (retired)
Ernie Lewis - Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy (retired) & NAPD (retired)
Kate Mason - Georgia Public Defender Council
Gilan Merwanji - Harris County Office of Managed Assigned Counsel (Houston, TX)
Ed Monahan - Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy (retired)
Hilary Potashner - Private Practitioner (Los Angeles, CA)
Phyllis Subin - New Mexico Public Defender (retired)
William (Bill) Ward - Minnesota Board of Public Defense