ABA Public Defense Summit


Larimer Square

Larimer Square

Photo courtesy of VISIT DENVER, credit Bryce Boyer

8:30 a.m.
Welcome Reception

9:00 - 10:15 a.m.
Session 1
No Counsel Courts

In almost every state, there is some level of criminal court where alleged violators routinely appear without counsel.  Usually the court hears low-level offenses where the punishment is limited to fines and fees, rather than a potential term of incarceration.  This panel will address when these courts are constitutional and when they are not as well as discussing how these courts should operate, with focus on the new ABA ethics opinion regarding the obligations of prosecutors in these courts.

Carlos Martinez, Chief Public Defender - Miami Dade County
Twyla Carter, Senior Staff Attorney - ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project
Kimberly Simmons, Municipal Court Coordinator - Colorado Office of the Alternate Defense Counsel

10:30 - 11:45 a.m.
Session 2
Counsel at First Appearance

This panel will focus on successful efforts to require counsel at first appearance as well as challenges and lessons learned in efforts to implement this reform in different types of courts and jurisdictions.

Tristan Grorman, Legislative Policy Counsel - Colorado Criminal Defense Bar
Patricia Warth, Chief Implementation Attorney and Counsel - NY Office of Indigent Legal Services
Loren Khogali, Executive Director – Michigan Indigent Defense Commission

Lunch Session

Alexandra Natapoff, Chancellor's Professor of Law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law and Author of Punishment Without Crime

1:00 - 2:15 p.m.
Session 3
Bail Reform

Bail reform, particularly for low-level offenders, is gratefully sweeping the country.  This panel will focus, not on achieving an order for reform, but on the practical implications of that reform and dealing with the inevitable pushback.  Topics will include administering bail reform, combating bad press and addressing failure to appear, among others.

Alex Bunin, Chief Public Defender – Harris County, Texas
Michael Mitchell, Chief Public Defender – East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana
 Colette Tvedt, Tvedt Law

2:30 - 3:30 p.m.
Session 4
Fines and Fees

Misdemeanor court can be expensive – fines, court costs, GPS and other monitoring costs, public defender fees, and warrant costs can leave our clients in a cycle of debt, non-payment and further punishment.  This panel will focus on what reform efforts have been in breaking this cycle.

Lisa Foster or Joanna Weiss, Fines and Fees Justice Center
Sara Totonchi, Executive Director – Southern Center for Human Rights
Jared Keenan, Criminal Justice Staff Attorney – ACLU Arizona

3:45 - 5:00 p.m.
Session 5
Criminalization of Homelessness and Mental Health Issues

Misdemeanor courts are full of individuals who are facing charges because they are homeless or suffer from mental health issues. This panel will focus on successful models for reducing criminalization and helping these individuals to more successfully.

Judge Steven Leifman, 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida
Tristia Bauman, Senior Attorney - National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
Mitchelle Woodson, Executive Director and Managing Attorney - Think Dignity
Nantiya Ruan, Professor of Practice of the Law, University of Denver Strum College of Law