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ABA Public Defense Summit

2018 Summit Materials

Challenges and Innovations in Public Defense:
The 13th Annual Summit on Public Defense Improvement

American Bar Association Headquarters
Chicago, IL

Friday, April 20, 2018

8:00-8:30 a.m.
Registration and Breakfast

8:30-9:00 a.m.
Welcome Remarks
Jim Bethke, Chair, Indigent Defense Advisory Group - ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants
Amy Campanelli, Cook County Public Defender

9:00-10:00 a.m.
Conflicts Issues in Public Defense: Challenges and Solutions
Amy Campanelli, Cook County Public Defender
Ann Sutton, Chief Counsel, Marion County Public Defender Agency
Robert Burns (invited), William M. Gurley Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law

Public defenders are under increasing pressure to retain cases despite a potential or actual conflict. The recent decision of Illinois v. Cole, holding that a public defender office is not a law firm for the purpose of turning down conflicting representations, appears to exacerbate this issue. This panel will address what further can be done to empower public defenders to determine when a conflict prohibits a representation. Additionally, the panel will discuss steps public defender offices have taken to ensure quality representation even where pressured to take conflict cases?

10:00-11:30 a.m.
Public Defender Workloads: Responding to the Crisis
Michael Barrett, Director, Missouri State Public Defender System
Carlos Martinez, Public Defender, Miami-Dade County
Stephen Hanlon, Project Director, ABA Public Defender Workload Studies
Malia Brink (Moderator), Assistant Counsel for Public Defense, ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants

Report after report has documented that public defenders across the country have excessive workloads. What efforts are being taken to stem this tide?  Have any been effective?  This panel will discuss efforts to reduce public defender workloads through studies, litigation and advocacy, with a focus on the role of public defenders in this reform effort.

11:30-11:45 a.m.

11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m.
Fines, Fees and Misdemeanor Courts
Hon. Lisa Foster (Ret.)
Nusrat Choudhury, American Civil Liberties Union
Sarah Reese, Municipal Court Public Defender, Biloxi, MS (Moderator)

Excessive fines and fees imposed on individuals without regard to that person’s ability to pay frequently lead to mounting court debt, warrants for failure to appear in court to address that debt, and, far too often, imprisonment. This panel will address efforts to break this cycle of over-criminalization through impact litigation, policy reform efforts, and improving courtroom advocacy for reducing and waiving fines and fees. The discussion will focus on the role public defenders can play in achieving reform.

12:45-1:30 p.m.
Lunch and Keynote Address

Keynote Speaker: Rick Kammen
Mr. Kammen served as learned death penalty counsel to Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri, who was accused of conspiring to bomb the USS The Sullivans, and of organizing the bombings of the USS Cole and a French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen, in 2000 and 2002 respectively. Nashiri was captured in Dubai in 2002 and held in secret Central Intelligence Agency custody until his transfer to Guantanamo Bay in 2006, While in CIA custody Nashiri was repeatedly tortured by the CIA. This case raised not only the use of waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques, but also the Constitutional sufficiency of the military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay. 

In October 13, 2017, Mr. Kammen and the other civilian lawyers representing Nashiri requested to withdraw and their withdrawal was approved by Gen. John Baker, the Chief Defense Counsel.  A statement issued by Mr. Kammen regarding the decision acknowledged, "The circumstances surrounding this are highly classified. But . . . doing so was necessary because it was no longer ethical for us to proceed." Mr. Kammen went on to offer his assessment regarding the military tribunals: "The military commission system is a failed experiment.... No justice will ever come out of Guantanamo."

Statement by Rick Kammen: Brig. Gen. John Baker, Chief Defense Counsel for Guantanamo Military Commission, Disbands the Defense Team in the USS COLE Case (Oct 13 2017)

The withdrawal of the defense team set off a chain of events no one could have predicted. Mr. Kammen and his colleagues were ordered to Guantanamo, an order that they contend is illegal. The Chief Defense Counsel for the military commission Brig. Gen. John Baker was held in contempt when he refused to rescind his decision excusing Mr. Kammen and the other lawyers. Mr. Kammen was forced to obtain an order from a federal judge to prevent the military commission tribunal from compelling him to appear. And Mr. Nashiri is now being represented by a single military lawyer with no homicide or death penalty experience.

In his address, Mr. Kammen will discuss his experience as a defense lawyer before the Guantanamo Bay military commission and the difficult choice to cease representation.

1:30-2:30 p.m.
Innovations in Public Defense

2:30-3:30 p.m.
The Judicial Role: What role should Judges play in public defense reform?
Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty (Invited), South Carolina Supreme Court
Rep. Marcia Morey, N.C. House of Representatives
Justice Cheri Beasley (Moderator), North Carolina Supreme Court

Judges have unique exposure to the problems of the criminal justice system, and in particular problems relating to the quality or sufficiency of public defense. Judges see these problems from the vantage point both one who must adjudicate individual cases in which such problems may play a role and as the chief administrators of the courts. To what extent, can judges, as administrators, be agents of change without compromising, or appearing to compromise, the role of unbiased and independent adjudicator? What is the appropriate role for judges in public defense reform?

3:30-3:45 p.m.

3:45-4:45 p.m.
Progressive Prosecution: Can Prosecutors drive criminal justice reform?
Larry Krasner (Invited), District Attorney, Philadelphia, PA
Mark Gonzalez, District Attorney, Nueces County, TX
Miriam Krinsky, Executive Director, Fair and Just Prosecution
Bryant Yang (Moderator), Asst. U.S. Attorney, Los Angeles, CA

The last few years have seen a wave of prosecutors elected to office on a platform of reform from Philadelphia to Corpus Christi. But what does progressive prosecution look like in practice? What is the impact of a progressive prosecutor on the individual accused of a crime? Can prosecutors drive more systemic criminal justice reform?