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January 10, 2023 RAPID RESPONSE

Public Defender Independence

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.



  • Alex Bunin, Chief Public Defender, Harris County Public Defender’s Office

Joint Sponsor: ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense


Speaker Presentations: Robert Boruchowitz, Alex Bunin

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

Proposed 2023 budget close to providing funding parity between New Orleans DA, public defenders following 2020 ordinance | The Lens

Inside NOLA public defenders' decision to refuse felony cases | 60 Minutes

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CRSJ provides free webinars and resources for legal professionals and advocates nationwide and relies on generous donor support and volunteer service. Your charitable gift ensures that we continue to address the deepening crises in our collective pursuit of advancing law and justice. Thank you!

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