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Events, Webinars and CLE

Explore upcoming and past events on topics related to public defense.

The National Public Defense Workload Study and the ABA's Revised Workload Principle Webinar: October 25, 2023

In this webinar, public defense experts Malia Brink and Cynthia Lee explain the results and uses of the National Public Defense Workload Study released in September 2023. The focus is on marshaling jurisdiction-specific data and the study results to understand funding needs. Participants also learn how to use the study to advocate for better resources for attorneys and their clients. Further discussion is devoted to the recently revised ABA Public Defense Principle on defender workloads, which incorporates the results of the study. This webinar is co-sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid & Indigent Defense and the SMU Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center.

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2023 Public Defense Summit - Achieving Political Independence and Manageable Caseloads in a Modern Public Defense System

Summit Program Recordings Are Now Available

2023 marks the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Gideon v. Wainwright guaranteeing the right to counsel for criminal defendants. But even six decades later, public defenders and other indigent defense providers continue to struggle against outside challenges to provide their clients with the best possible representation. The 2023 ABA Public Defense Summit focused on ensuring manageable workloads, protecting public defender independence, and other such challenges.

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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.

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2022 ABA Public Defense Summit - Management and Oversight of Assigned Counsel and Contract Systems

Public Defense Summit

Summit Program Recordings Are Now Available

In almost every jurisdiction in the country, some portion of public defense work is undertaken by private practice attorneys operating as either court appointed or contract counsel. The 2022 ABA public defense summit focused on the needs and oversight of such attorneys, whether they were representing all individuals charged with crimes in their jurisdiction or just a small portion thereof.

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Court Fees and Surcharges: Reforms and Post-Pandemic Impact

court fees

March 29, 2021

This program examined the issue of fees and their impact on defendants, as well as the legislative reforms proposed or instituted in several jurisdictions. This program also examined the future of court fee reform in light of the pandemic and its impact on courts and budgets.

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Racial Disparities and Criminal Justice: A Conversation with Cheri Beasley and Ted Shaw

Racial Disparities

February 23, 2021

A discussion of racial disparities and the criminal justice system with former North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and former Director-General of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund Ted Shaw. They address the progress, backlashes, and personal cost of working to acknowledge and address discrimination in criminal justice, as well as guidance for future reform efforts.

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Katrina 15th Anniversary Programs

From Katrina to COVID

To mark the 15th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense (SCLAID) together with the Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center at SMU Law School, the ABA Criminal Justice Section and the ABA Section on Civil Rights and Social Justice present webinars on the impact of crisis on two key components of the criminal justice system: Jails and Prisons, and Public Defense. The programs will consider what happens to people trapped in the criminal justice system during times of extreme systemic stress and whether or not such times of crisis can be catalysts for reform. Please join us for these free (non-CLE) programs.

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