Public defender resources are often threatened by public officials whose interests may not align with ensuring high-quality legal representation for indigent clients. These officials can threaten funding and employment, as well as micromanage the operations of public defense offices. When public defender independence is threatened in this way, defenders are placed in the difficult position of having to fight for resources and autonomy from an official, such as a judge, who can affect their clients’ fate. Political interference also undermines public trust in public defense systems by lending credence to the popular notion that defenders are tools of the state. In this webinar, practitioners who have faced such interference discuss the issue in more detail and provide insight on how defenders can fight for their own independence.
- Robert C. Boruchowitz, Professor from Practice and Director of the Defender Initiative, Seattle University School of Law
- Derwyn Bunton, Chief Legal Officer, Southern Poverty Law Center
- Charlie Gerstein, Partner, Gerstein Harrow LLP
- Keisha Hudson, Chief Defender, Defender Association of Philadelphia
- Alex Bunin, Chief Public Defender, Harris County Public Defender’s Office
Joint Sponsor: ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense
Seeking Public Defender Autonomy | Alex Bunin
Public Defender Independence | Alex Bunin
Protecting the Independence of Public Defenders | Larry Jefferson and Robert C. Boruchowitz
Independence of Public Defense Services | Washington State
Standards for Indigent Defense Services | Washington State Bar Association
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