Public Defenseless

By Hunter Parnell

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Anyone paying attention can tell you that our criminal justice system is broken, but the complexity of the legal world overwhelms most people simply trying to get through another day. Public Defenseless explores the rot in the justice system and what we can do about it. Join host, Hunter Parnell, as he interviews top defense attorneys and criminal justice stakeholders from across the country as they pull apart the convoluted web of our criminal justice system. Like so many of you, Hunter is not an attorney, simply tired of a news cycle and talking heads that offer no real solutions to the ever-growing list of problems we face. Hunter hopes that with this information, you will share his belief that ordinary people still can make a difference.

Episode Date
102: How the Delaware Law Enforcement Bill of Rights Keeps Cop Misconduct Hidden w/Kevin O'Connell, Misty Seemans, and Elliot Marguels

When you hear the phrase “Bill of Rights”, you like envision the first 10 amendments of the U.S. Constitution. You may conjure up the many individual liberties that are protected by that bill of rights as a way to limit the power of the government, but in some states, the government has its own bill of rights. Today on the show, Hunter spoke with three Public Defenders from the state of Delaware to discuss their law enforcement bill of rights. Kevin O’Connell, Misty Seemans, and Elliot Margules walk us through the history, implementation, and impacts of this quirky legal process that can make it exceedingly difficult for public defenders and even prosecutors to get their hands on evidence of police misconduct.




Kevin O’Connell, Chief Public Defender, Delaware

Misty Seemans, Family Court Supervisor, Delaware

Elliot Margules, Special Litigation Attorney




Delaware Public Defender


Sixth Amendment Center Report on Delaware


Delaware Call: Why we need access to police misconduct records in Delaware - PART I: The problem: How LEOBOR has kept police misconduct secret



Delaware Call: Why we need access to police misconduct records in Delaware - PART II: The History: How the First State came to adopt LEOBOR



Delaware Code: Delaware’s LEOBOR



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Mar 21, 2023
101: Reflecting on Gideon v Wainwright, the Past, Present and Future of Public Defense w/Justine Olderman and Wes Caines

60 years ago, Clarence Gideon changed the legal landscape of America forever. Thanks to his self-written petition to the Supreme Court, it was finally recognized at the federal level that any person charged with a felony who cannot afford to hire was entitled to one under the 6th Amendment. Soon, that right would be extended to a person facing any possibility of confinement, and thus, our modern understanding of Public Defense was born.


On today’s episode, Hunter spoke with to members of the Bronx defenders to reflect on the legacy of Gideon. Justine Olderman, Executive Director, and Wesley Caines, Chief of Staff, are part of the team at the Bronx Defenders trying to take the lessons from the past to drive new innovations in Public Defense. From the perspective of the attorneys and the formerly incarcerated, today’s episode attempts to look at the strategic end state Public Defense hopes to achieve and the what it will take to achieve it.



Justine Olderman, Executive Director, Bronx Defenders

Wesley Caines, Chief of Staff, Bronx Defenders




Bronx Defenders

Follow Wesley on Twitter

Follow Justine on Twitter

Inquest Series on Public Defense



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Mar 17, 2023
100: Do Sex Offender Registries Make Us Safer? w/David Garlock

Today, Hunter spoke with David Garlock, a formerly incarcerated and current criminal justice reformer, to discuss how David’s journey from victim, to prison, to life after prison has landed him advocating to end sex offender registries. As a child, David endured nearly a decade of child sexual abuse. Eventually, he and his brother sought revenge against the man who committed the acts, and they made the decision to murder that man. David and his brother would go on to be convicted of murder and spend a decade locked away in an Alabama prison. Following his prison time, David began working with those who committed sex crimes in an attempt to rehabilitate them. Given his experience, there are few people who can speak with such moral authority on the issue of the sex offender registry and in the efforts to move our system away from one with a bedrock of vengeance.




David Garlock, Formerly Incarcerated and Criminal Justice Reformer



David Garlock Website

David Garlock on Twitter

National Association for Rational Sex Offender Laws



NAPD 2023 National Conference Sign Up


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Mar 16, 2023
99: There is no Public Defense Without Investigators w/Jon Lyon

On today’s episode, Hunter spoke with Jon Lyon, the Investigator Resource Coordinator for the National Association for Public Defense, to talk all things investigator related. As Public Defense is focused on the practice of law, it makes sense that most of our conversations are lawyer centric, but part of the role of this show and of the NAPD is to remind everyone involved in Public Defense that it takes an entire team of people to represent someone. You may be the best lawyer on Earth, but if there is no one to assist you in collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, or chasing down leads, there are limits to what you can accomplish in the court room. For this reason, it is essential that we understand that without investigators, there is no Public Defense.




Jon Lyon, Investigator Resource Coordinator, National Association for Public Defense




NAPD Website

Lyon Legal Logistics

Internet Sleuths



NAPD 2023 National Conference Sign Up


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Mar 14, 2023
98: Making the Case for the Abolition of Court Fees w/Priya Sarathy Jones

Previously on the show, Hunter spoke with Marea Beeman about the dangerous fines and fees that make “free” attorneys decidedly not “free”. Today, Hunter sat down with Priya Sarathy Jones, Deputy Executive Director of the Fines and Fees Justice Center, to do an even deeper dive on the hidden costs that come with any interaction with the legal system. Since the Reagan administration, local communities, starved of federal support, began using the legal system to generate revenue. From that point on, more and more fees that have nothing to do with restitution to victims of crimes have been added to our legal system. As a result, a simple interaction with the legal system now carries a high risk of getting trapped in a cycle of poverty and debt.



Priya Sarathy Jones, Deputy Executive Director, Fines and Fees Justice Center



Fines and Fees Justice Center Website



NAPD 2023 National Conference Sign Up


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Mar 09, 2023
97: A Reason to Hope for Connecticut Public Defense w/TaShun Bowden-Lewis

Taking over a Public Defender System requires one to understand the greatest weaknesses of the system. For TaShun Bowden-Lewis, one of those is a sever lack of outreach from the Connecticut Office of the Public Defender Office. While it will not happen overnight, TaShun hopes that by achieving her three main goals she will be able to transform the state wide system into one that is at the forefront of reshaping public safety policy. From innovative ideas for external affairs to caring for the wellbeing of every Public Defender under her leadership, TaShun offers the state hope for a better model of Public Defense.




TaShun Bowden Lewis, Chief Public Defender, Connecticut Office of the Public Defender


Connecticut Office of the Public Defender

CT Public Defender on Twitter



NAPD Conference Sign Up

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Mar 07, 2023
96: How to Include the Formerly Incarcerated in Public Defense w/Anthony Graves

After spending 18 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, Anthony Graves hopes he can start a movement of getting more people with experience with the legal system involved in Public Defense. As the Director of Community Outreach for the Harris County Public Defender Office, Anthony is helping to bridge the gap between Public Defenders and the clients they represent. With crushing caseloads and minimal resources, Public Defenders cannot always provide the type of care that each of their clients need. While we may understand that this is more a product of a failing public defender system than the indifference of the attorney, the client only sees that their needs are not being met. From there, trust, with the client and the community, can easily erode. This is where Anthony steps in.



Few people know the needs of those currently accused of a crime quite like those who have spent time trapped in the legal system. Yet, many who serve as Public Defenders are unable to fully relate to the plight of their clients. With the help of Anthony and his Peer Navigators, Public Defenders can fill this critical knowledge gap and move one step closer to true holistic representation.




Anthony Graves, Director of Community Outreach, Harris County Public Defender Office



Harris County Public Defender Office

Anthony’s Website

Follow Anthony on Twitter

Email Anthony

In Memorium of Jeff Blackburn


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Mar 02, 2023
95: Why it's Time to Abolish Felony Murder Laws w/Nazgol Ghandnoosh

Normally in criminal law, intent matters. The intent of a person is one of the most critical features in determining how we will punish someone for a crime they committed. Then came the felony murder law. As a result of this law, people committing a felony that resulted in the death of another, no matter how remote that death may have been, were treated the same as someone who acted with the intent to kill someone. How this happened, the impacts of this harsh law, and what we can do about it are all topics in today’s episode with Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Co-Director of Research at the Sentencing Project.




Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Co-Director of Research, The Sentencing Project




Nazgol’s Publications

Sentencing Project Report on Felony Murder



NAPD Conference Sign Up

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Feb 28, 2023
94: Where Will Maryland Public Defense Go With A New Chief Public Defender w/Natasha Dartigue

Today, Hunter spoke with the newest Chief Public Defender for the State of Maryland, Natasha Dartigue. Throughout her career, Natasha worked in every imaginable part of the Maryland Public Defender system. As such, she is acutely aware of the strength, weaknesses, and challenges she will face as she leads the office into the next decade. As with all of the conversations we have with leaders of a state wide Public Defense system, Natasha brings with her a vision for a safer, more vibrant community through the revitalization of public defense in the state of Maryland.




Natasha Dartigue, Chief Public Defender, Maryland Office of the Public Defender




Maryland Office of the Public Defender

Maryland Public Defender Caseload Standards

Geoff Burkhart “How to Leverage Public Defender Workload Studies””


NAPD Conference Sign Up

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Feb 23, 2023
93: Why it is Time to Move Away from Assigned and Contract Public Defense Models w/Eve Primus

For somewhere between a third and a half of indigent people accused of a crime, they will be given either an assigned or contract Public Defender. Today’s guest, Professor Eve Primus, argues that we must move away from that contract model of Public Defense. After years of research and writing, Eve is positive of one thing: to ensure everyone accused of a crime who cannot afford an attorney is provided competent representation, we must make full time Public Defense Offices the standard delivery method for public defense.


From the lack of available resources to the lack of political voice, Eve posits that assigned counsel systems are no longer a viable option for the indigent clients they represent. To hear how she arrived at this point, why she is hopeful change can manifest, and the role she feels law schools must play in making our legal system better, tune in to this awesome conversation!




Eve Primus, Professor of Law, University of Michigan



The Problematic Structure of Indigent Defense Delivery


NAPD Conference Sign Up

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Feb 21, 2023
92: The Important Role Public Defense Played in New Jersey Bail Reform w/Joseph Krakora

For some reason, people forget that long before New York or Illinois ended cash bail, New Jersey successfully eliminated cash bail. As Joseph Krakora shares on today’s episode, that initiative came, in part, because Public Defense was valued enough by local politicians to be a major voice in shaping criminal justice reform. With more than a decade as the head of the New Jersey Public Defender System, few are better situated to share the story of bail reform and Public Defense in the state of New Jersey. Most importantly though, this story highlights why it is so important for Public Defenders to make themselves heard when policy is being crafted.





Joseph Krakora, Public Defender of the State of New Jersey


Office of the New Jersey Public Defender


NAPD Conference Sign Up

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Feb 16, 2023
91: If Iowa Public Defense is About to Collapse, What is Happening in Juvenile and Immigration Defense w/Rachel Antonuccio and Julia Zalenski

While the main focus of the podcast is the representation that adults receive in felony and misdemeanor cases, there are countless other areas of law where indigent people need the help of attorneys. There are few states capable of providing the resources and care necessary to create a functioning public defense system for adult representation, so we shouldn’t be surprised when things like Juvenile and Immigration representation fall to the wayside. Iowa is no exception. Recently, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court stated Public Defense in Iowa was on the verge of collapse. If that’s the case, what’s happening to juvenile and immigration representation?



To help answer these questions, Hunter spoke with Julia Zalenski, a Public Defender in the Iowa City Public Defender Office, and Rachel Antonuccio, the supervisor at the Waterloo Juvenile Public Defender Office. Through their tireless work and speaking on the show, they hope to draw attention to the needs of the countless clients who are easily ignored by the state.



Guest: Rachel Antonuccio, Supervisor, Waterloo Juvenile Public Defender Office

Julia Zalenski, Public Defender, Iowa City Public Defender Office


Iowa Public Defender Office

Iowa Public Defense Crisis


NAPD Conference Sign Up

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Feb 14, 2023
90: In Order to Review Hours of Video Evidence, Public Defenders Need New Tech w/Devshi Mehrotra

In a good faith effort to hold police accountable, states and counties around the country started mandating that police wear body cameras at all times. When they or on or working, they offer a powerful source of evidence at the misconduct of officers. There is just one problem: With Public Defender Offices in crisis around the country, do they actually have the time to review hundreds of hours of video evidence in every case? That answer, for a long time, was no. That’s where Justice Text, and our guest today come in.



As student at the University of Chicago, Devshi Mehrotra realized the inequities in our legal system following the murder of Laquan McDonald. As the Chicago community rallied for change, she wanted to help. Out of this desire the idea for Justice Text was born. On today’s show, you will hear more about the creation of Justice Text, how it helps Public Defenders, and the role tech needs to take in helping balancing the scales between resources available to police, prosecutors, and Public Defenders.






Justice Text

Justice Text on Twitter

NY Times article on the disparity in access to tech across the legal system


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Feb 09, 2023
89: How to Pass on the Lessons from a 20+ Year Public Defender Career w/Andre Vitale

With the grueling nature of Public Defense work, it takes a special combination of internal and external motivations to navigate a 20+ year career in the field. Today on the show our guest, Andre Vitale, shares with us how he managed the highs and lows of working in Public Defense in three separate states.



When his career started, Andre served as a line defender in the Monroe, County Public Defender Office in Rochester New York. After more than a decade there, Andre spent a year in King County Washington, to help refine his skills as a Public Defense Trainer. After finally landing in the Hudson Trial region in New Jersey, Andre has helped to cultivate inciteful and productive training programs for Public Defense around the country. As he sees it in order to get Public Defense where it needs to go, a robust training program is a must, and it is part of what kept him going through all of these years!




Andre Vitale, Acting First Assistant Deputy Public Defender, Trial Chief, Hudson Trial Region at New Jersey Office of the Public Defender


NJ Office of the Public Defender



NAPD Conference Sign Up

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Feb 07, 2023
88: The Most Important Public Defense Victories Don't Happen in the Court Room w/Sam Allison Natale

When we think of zealous Public Defense, we often think of triumphant victories in the court room, but today’s guest wants Public Defenders to realize their greatest victories must come outside of the court room. Joining Hunter today once again is Sam Allison-Natale. He is the Executive Director of the Kansas Holistic Defenders, the only holistic public defender office in the state of Kansas dedicated to representing only misdemeanor clients.


Unlike most states, the Kansas Public Defender system provides representation only to those accused of felony crimes. So, when Sam moved with his family from New York to Lawrence Kansas, there was a limited opportunity to continue serving his community as a Public Defender. Undeterred, Sam seized on the already existing local groundswell of people calling for drastic changes to the local criminal legal system. In understanding the power of organizing and collective action, Sam assisted in getting the office up and running. On today’s episode, you’ll find out how the team at Kansas Holistic Defenders accomplished this and continue to work with the community to challenge the carceral system!


Sam Allison-Natale, Executive Director, Kansas Holistic Defenders


Kansas Holistic Defenders

ICE Detention Story

Sanctuary City News

Sanctuary Alliance Lawerence Kansas



NAPD Conference Registration



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Feb 02, 2023
87: How to Make the Case for Public Defense in a Conservative State w/Diane Lozano

Today, Hunter spoke with Diane Lozano, the Wyoming State Public Defender, to discuss how she’s been able to secure support for Public Defense in the challenge political landscape of Wyoming. With more than a decade at the helm of the state’s public defender system, Diane’s use of data and public advocacy has allowed her to maintain support through multiple state Congresses and Gubernatorial administrations. Despite the turmoil that comes with changing faces of a constantly rotating political body, Diane found a way to build the necessary relationships and compile the necessary data to make convincingly and consistently make the case for people to care about public defense. This task is even more impressive when one considers that her position is a direct Gubernatorial appointee!



Yet her victories are always in a precarious state. As with all states, funding for public defense is always at the whim of an ever-changing political body, but in Wyoming, it’s also tied to the success of the fossil fuel industry. Despite victories both in and out of the court room, the boom bust cycle of the fossil fuel industry often leaves her offices and the support services their clients need, in a precarious position. What can be done to shore up a more consistent funding stream? What can we learn from the story of Public Defense in Wyoming? All that and more will be answered by the end of this excellent conversation!



Diane Lozano, State Public Defender, Wyoming


Lozano v Circuit Court

Wyoming Public Defender



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Jan 31, 2023
86: The Resurrection of New York Public Defense w/Patricia Warth

For decades, activists, scholars, and attorneys decried the state of public defense in New York. Report after report uncovered a broken system that underpaid public defenders and contact attorneys alike as the state shirked its responsibility to adequately support the counties in their effort to provide counsel to the poor. Even after a landmark study, mandated by the state’s chief justice, it would take another decade and a lawsuit from the NYCLU, to finally start the process toward reform.



For much of her career, today’s guest zealously advocated for poor clients facing the death penalty. As such, Patricia Warth was able to see first-hand the incredibly positive impacts that a well-funded, well-staffed public defender office could have on the lives of the accused and the community writ large. Today, her experience as a death penalty lawyer informs her work as the Director of the New York Office of Indigent Legal Services. While not fighting battles in the courtroom, Patricia is still caught in a daily struggle to help legislators from around the country understand the necessity for the state to continue to expand its support for public defense. With her incredible experience at nearly every level of public defense in New York, Patricia is the perfect guest to help us understand what we can learn from the rehabilitation of New York’s Public Defense System.




Patricia Warth, Director, New York Office of Indigent Legal Services


2006 Reports on New York Indigent Defense

Hurell-Harring Settlement Implementation

State of Injustice: How New York State Turns its Back on the Right to Counsel for the Poor”

NY ILS website



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Jan 26, 2023
85: The Challenges Public Defense Faces in Rural Georgia w/Michael Smith

Today on the show, Hunter spoke with Michael Smith, an Assistant Public Defender in Chattooga County, Georgia, to talk about the unique challenges he faces as a rural public defender. After college and law school took him away from his home in Chattooga, County, Michael Smith returned home with a new found understanding of the inequities his community faced.



As the only public defender in the county, Michael is responsible for ensuring the rights of every person in the county are protected. As if that burden was not enough, the county, like so many rural areas of the country, suffers from a severe drought of mental health and transportation services that are essential to assisting people escape the cycle of legal system interactions. If we are to solve the nation’s Public Defense crisis, we will need to come up with solutions to get desperately needed resources and services to rural and urban public defenders alike.




Michael Smith, Assistant Public Defender, Chattooga County Georgia


Contact for Michael 

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Jan 24, 2023
84: How Anne Arundel County, MD Prosecutors Over Incarcerate the Community w/Felipe Gonzalez

 Over the last year of Public Defenseless, Hunter spent a lot of time speaking with Chief Public Defenders from commissions and state-wide offices around the country. This top down view of Public Defense is extremely valuable and will be something that you hear more of on the show, but Hunter also realized he neglected to get the voices of line public defenders on the show. Over the course of the year, more episodes with line public defenders, like the one today, will be coming your way!



Today, Hunter spoke with Felipe Gonzalez, a felony public defender in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. His story, like many line defenders around the country is impossible to tell without discussing crippling caseloads, staffing shortages, and prosecutors who religiously advocate for no bail for most accused of a crime. Yet despite this, Felipe is able to rely on the tight knit office community to weather the storms inherent in the work.  We hope you enjoy the first of many conversations with the line defenders who serve as the back bone of public defense around the country!




Felipe Gonzalez, Felony Public Defender, Anne Arundel County Maryland 




Anne Arundel County PD Office


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Jan 19, 2023
83: The Everyday Citizens Uncovering Oklahoma Police and Prosecutor Misconduct

A major theme of this show is empower regular people with the knowledge necessary to push back against the overreach of the state via police and prosecutors. That's why Hunter was so excited to bring you today's episode with a representative from the organization called Citizens Overseeing Police Oklahoma. The guest today is your everyday Oklahoman who is tired of the rampant corruption and abuse that police and prosecutors of the state get away with on a daily basis. While we could only scratch the surface of the issues facing the state, even the limited dialog should be eye opening for anyone interested in creating a fairer and safer Oklahoma. 



****A NOTE ABOUT TODAY'S SHOW**** Our guest today is remaining anonymous due to legitimate concerns to their safety. Already, law enforcement has engaged in activity that is nothing short of reprisal and harassment for the guest's continued efforts to push back against their abuse of power. As such, the voice you will hear on today's show is AI generated to protect the identity of the guest. 



Representative of the Citizens Overseeing Police Oklahoma



Citizens Overseeing Police Oklahoma

The Brady List

*These are all single sources for the names and alleged activity in the episode. If more sourcing is requested, please contact Hunter or Citizens Overseeing Police OK*




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Jan 17, 2023
82: The Tech NonProfit Accelerating People Out of the U.S. Justice System w/Serena Chang

Across the country, outdated and disconnected data systems keep thousands of people stuck in prison or on community supervision long after they should technically be free. Today, Hunter spoke with Serena Chang, a product manager at Recidiviz, a tech nonprofit working to solve this problem and make the criminal justice system fairer, smaller, and more effective.


As discussed in the episode with Jason Tashea, the legal system is slow to incorporate new technology. Yet for States and organizations around the country, it’s becoming obvious they can no longer operate a legal system based on individuals enter data by hand or relying on the memory of a few overworked officials. This is where Recidiviz enters the conversation. Tune in to hear how Serena and Recidiviz craft individualized, yet scalable solutions that aim at reducing the power and reach of the American prison industrial complex!




Serena Chang, Product Manager, Recidiviz


Key Topics:

Serena’s journey to Recidiviz [5:00]

The Problems facing the legal system [6:35]

How to craft solutions and how they worked in Idaho [14:25]

How states get introduced into Recidiviz’ work [23:04]

How Recidiviz works on policy [25:10]

Ensuring increasing efficiency does not simply increase the efficiency of incarceration [28:37]

Preventing the states from using data collected to implement more pro carceral policy [31:27]

Ensuring equal access to tools [34:05]

Plans for expansion [36:10]

How to access Recidiviz’ pre-existing tools [38:35]

Data Protection [40:35]

What would happen if bad/illegal behavior by the state came to light [42:30]

Trends Recidiviz noticed in their data collection [44:25]

Goals for organization [46:58]

How to start partnership [49:15]

Offering solutions that do not increase the size and power of the Department of Corrections [51:40]

Working with a PD Office [54:20]

How to learn more and identify problems [56:22]







Contact Hunter Parnell:







Jan 12, 2023
81: How to Craft Ethical Tech Solutions to the Many Issues with the Legal System w/Jason Tashea

On this episode, Hunter spoke with Jason Tashea to discuss the exciting intersection of tech and the legal system. As the Director and Co-Founder of the Georgetown Judicial Innovation Fellowship, Jason is constantly thinking about ways to ethically integrate technology into the legal world. As an institution predicated on tradition, precedent, and intentionally inefficient legal protections, the legal profession has been incredibly slow to adopt the forward thinking, efficiency mindset so prevalent in the tech world.



It is the juxtaposition of the two that sits at the center of today’s conversation. How do we ensure that the efficiency goals of tech don’t trample the rights of others? How do we make sure that the vitally necessary data collection practices are implemented safely without privacy violation? All these questions and more are explored in this episode!





Jason Tashea, Director and Co-Founder of the Georgetown Judicial Innovation Fellowship



Key Topics:

How Jason’s Career got him here [5:40]

Where does the use of tech currently stand in the legal profession [7:50]

Access to Justice Gap [9:28]

Understanding the difficulties of a public-private partnership [13:41]

Lessons from other countries [16:22]

Data Privacy Concerns [19:56]

What policies need to be implemented to ensure equal access to new tech [23:50]

Balancing tech’s desire for efficiency with the law’s inefficient legal protections [27:05]

More ethical issues with law and tech [34:50]

Faith in reforms [38:13]

Limiting power of centralization of data [40:40]

The Fellowship [45:10]

Pushing for an Open Source Environment [52:00]

Getting into the Fellowship [53:00]

What Public Defenders can do to get more tech solutions [56:00]




Links for Judicial Innovation Fellowship

Justice as a Platform

A Human Rights Approach to Justice Technology Procurement

How the US can Compete with China on digital justice technology

Talk Justice Podcast

Code for America

Legal Hackers





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Jan 10, 2023
80: Staff Assaults, A Decade in Solitary, and the Many Horrors of Massachusetts' Prisons w/Elizabeth Matos

From the denial of basic healthcare needs to decades in solitary confinement, prisoners stuck in the Massachusetts prison system face near daily deprivation of basic human and Constitutional rights. Today, Hunter spoke with Elizabeth Matos to understand how her organization, Prisoners' Legal Services of Massachusetts, challenges this system of relentless brutality.




Elizabeth Matos, Executive Director, Prisoners' Legal Services of Massachusetts



Key Topics:

How Lizz’s family history got her into this line of work [6:55]

The problems in Massachusetts’ Prisons [10:09]

Are there other organizations working to solve this problem? [14:17]

What do communities miss out on when they don’t have a PLSMA type org [17:12]

The lack of healthcare in Massachusetts’ Prisons [19:35]

Specific challenges females face in regard to lack of healthcare [22:41]

 How the legislature is responding to this issue [29:30]

Staff Assaults in Massachusetts’ Prisons [33:56]

Solutions for the Staff Assault problem [41:27]

Other issues with confinement in Massachusetts’ Prisons [47:50]

Issues with Solitary Confinement [56:00]

Race and Equity Initiatives [1:02:00]

The year ahead for PLSMA [1:06:00]

Ensuring the voices of the incarcerated are heard when crafting solutions [1:11:00]




Email Lizz


Walpole Prison Riot

Annie Dookhan



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Jan 05, 2023
79: What Could Yolo County Public Defenders Do if They Weren't Funded $16 Million Less than the Prosecutors? w/Tracie Olson

While not a small county, Yolo County California does not have the size or resources to match the major metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, L.A., or Sacramento. Yet somehow, Tracie Olson, Chief Public Defender Yolo County, and her team at the Yolo County Public Defender Office are able to maintain a strong holistic public defense practice.


Despite a $16 million dollar budget shortfall compared to the prosecutors, Tracie has been able to establish her office as a pillar in the community. If the county and the state of California were to finally fund the office at even 85% of what the prosecutor’s office received, the health and safety of Yolo County could reach heights no one thought possible!




Tracie Olson, Chief Public Defender, Yolo County Public Defender Office



Key Topics:

How Tracie got started in Indigent Defense [8:30]

Demographics and layout of Yolo County California [13:25]

Where the Yolo County Public Defender Office sits California’s Public Defense System [15:30]

Funding disparity between California Prosecutors and Public Defenders, and what Tracie can do despite the disparity [17:43]

Community Response to the disparity in Prosecutor and Public Defense Funding [21:20]

The impacts of the “tough on crime” media narratives over the past few years on Yolo County [27:50]

Trying to address the housing issue in Yolo County [37:30]

What can’t the Yolo County PD office do because of the funding shortage and how is the community hurt as a result [41:25]

Making Public Defense more than a “check box” system [48:20]

Yolo County PD community outreach programs [54:45]

What does California need to do to support public defense? [1:05:45]



Yolo County Public Defender Office

Yolo County Public Defender Facebook

Yolo County Public Defender Twitter


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Jan 03, 2023
78: What's Plaguing Public Defense in Oakland County Michigan and New Hampshire? w/David Carroll

Why are some state’s public defense systems so strong while others are so weak? 


This week, Hunter speaks for a second time with David Carroll, the Executive Director of the Sixth Amendment Center. David highlights a handful of reports that his organization conducted in an attempt to improve the public defense systems of many different states.


First, David talks about Oakland Michigan, a now strong system because of the Sixth Amendment Center’s findings. Then, he’ll go into a weaker system—New  Hampshire. Taking you through the ins and outs of this complicated government, you’ll learn exactly why change in this state has been so difficult. 


Hunter and David end the episode by delving into the Illinois and Lake County, California reports and how the Sixth Amendment has improved the systems in these locations as well. 


This episode highlights the fact that systems can still be bad even with well-intentioned individuals at the helm. However, David will instill you with true hope that positive change is on the horizon.


Key Topics/Takeaways:


  • Qualifications and independence for attorneys in Oakland. [15:53]
  • Attorney compensation in Oakland. [21:45]
  • Recommendations and results in Oakland. [33:20]
  • The structure of indigent defense in New Hampshire. [41:33]
  • Attorney compensation in New Hampshire. [54:04]
  • Non-lawyer prosecuters. [59:19]
  • The nonprofit state public defender and conflict system. [1:07:20]
  • Caseloads in New Hampshire. [1:10:17]
  • Recommendations for New Hampshire. [1:17:23]
  • The Illinois report. [1:24:28]
  • The Lake County, California report. [1:32:21]
  • A 2022 public defense wrap up + David’s hope for the future. [1:38:47]




David Caroll, Executive Director, Sixth Amendment Center




Sixth Amendment Center Reports  


Race to the Bottom Michigan 


Memorable Quotes:


“Systems in America, whether that be indigent defense or otherwise, do not need to have a bad person running them for them to fail. In fact, it can be even more difficult for well-intentioned people to correct a system that they are responsible for because it is so much harder for them to see past their own good intentions.” (2:40, Hunter)


“People don't even see it anymore. It's ethical blindness right in front of them. And so it takes a group like ours to come in and hold a mirror up and say, no, look at what's actually playing out in all these things.” (24:43, David)


“Now that we've solved the compensation issue, once those plans get implemented and in place, once caseloads can be enforced, I think Michigan's well on the way to being one of the better systems in the country.” (39:28, David)


“I think a lot of people that want criminal justice reform think that criminal justice systems were rationally constructed. Like someone sat down and said, this is the best way to do it for us. And it's absolutely not the case. It's just piecemeal.” (1:08:22, David)


“I am hopeful. I am the eternal optimist. You can't be doing this work for over 25 years and not be hopeful.” (1:39:10, David)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Dec 23, 2022
77: The Fallout of the Dobbs Decision on Louisiana Reproductive Healthcare w/Gwyneth O'Neill, Ellie Schilling and Michelle Erenberg

Since its inception, Supreme Court decisions play a terrifying role in controlling the lives of Americans. Few decisions in living memory now play a greater role than the overturning of Roe v Wade.



To understand the impacts of Dobbs v Jackson, Hunter is joined by three guests from the state of Louisiana. Gwyneth O’Neill is an associate at the law firm Schonekas, Evans, McGoey and McEachin. Ellie Schilling is a partner at the same law firm and serves on the board of the non-profit LIFT Louisiana that Michelle Erenberg is the co-Executive Director.



For decades, anti-abortion activists fought tooth and nail to see Roe v Wade overturned, but now that it is, those same activists are demonstrating a fundamental disregard for the impacts of their actions. With healthcare in a precarious situation around the country, the short sightedness of the activists in paraded throughout the episode.



By going through the history of abortion denying access in the state and the many contradictions in the current laws, Hunter hopes to equip every listener, attorney or not, with the tools needed to push back against those seeking to turn Reproductive Healthcare back to 1865.  




Gwyneth O’Neill, Associate, Schonekas, Evans, McGoey and McEachin

Ellie Schilling, Partner, Schonekas, Evans, McGoey and McEachin, Board Member Lift Louisiana.

Michelle Erenberg, Co-Executive Director, Lift Louisiana



Key Topics:

How everyone got involved in Reproductive Justice [6:04]

S.B8 Texas [20:20]

Evolution of Anti-Abortion Laws [26:00]

The impacts of changing the definition of when life starts [33:00]

The difficulty of anticipating what comes next with all of the contradictions in the law [49:30]

How does the Legislature respond to the hypocrisy [51:00]

Chilling effects on Drs and other unintended consequences [55:30]

Crisis of Healthcare [1:03:00]

How Lift LA tries to appeal to voters [1:14:00]

The severe lack of expertise from policy makers ;1:17:00]

Criminal Defense Preparing for these cases [1:24:00]

Reporting Standards for Doctors [1:36:00]

Connecting communities with the resources needed to fight back [1:42:00]

What else can the defense bar do to prepare [1:47:00]




Lift Louisiana

Follow Lift Louisiana on Twitter


Here's a link to the Abortion Defenders sign up form

Schonekas, Evans, McGoey and McEachin





Contact Hunter Parnell:






Dec 21, 2022
76: Trying to Keep Public Defense in North Dakota from Collapsing w/Travis Finck

Right now, a three-attorney public defender office in North Dakota has zero attorneys on staff. And with public defender turnover rates on the rise, the state makes it difficult to provide legal representation for all.


In this episode, Hunter speaks with Travis Finck, the Executive Director of The Commission on Legal Counsel for Indigents (CLCI). He brings with him an infectious optimism and deep knowledge of North Dakota public defense.


The first half of the episode will teach you all about the formation of the public defense system in North Dakota and how it transformed into what it is today. 


Then, he’ll dive into the unique challenges within the public defense and criminal system of the state. Travis will share how he is responding to high turnover rates and low funding while trying to improve public defense in North Dakota for the better. 


With only 20-30% of individuals charged with misdemeanors in the state getting public defenders, it’s obvious that many people are going without needed legal representation. Travis dreams of a day when North Dakota can boast a great public defender system. 


Key Topics/Takeaways:

  • Travis’s background in public defense. [5:49]
  • The creation of the North Dakota public defense system. [9:20]
  • Hourly rates and statutory caps. [12:42]
  • Turnover rates. [23:24]
  • The bail system in North Dakota. [35:56]
  • North Dakota determination standards. [43:28]
  • Recoupment fees. [54:09]
  • Where Travis wants public defense to go in North Dakota. [58:52]



Travis Finck, Executive Director, The Commission on Legal Counsel for Indigents (CLCI)



CLCI Website


Memorable Quotes:

“We like to think we have good people, and when you can't pay good people what they're worth, there's natural inclination for them to look elsewhere. And I don't fault them for it.” (24:19, Travis)


“Justice delayed is justice denied.” (33:06, Travis)


“Us not being able to staff that office is not a public defense issue. That's a criminal justice system-wide issue.” (39:41, Travis)


“The people that are doing this work, sure as hell ain't doing it for the money. We're doing it because it's the right thing to do.” (40:18, Travis)


“My personal position on the fees is it's the only constitutional right that I'm aware of that's conditioned upon paying a fee.” (56:19, Travis)


“I don't wanna be known as a sufficient public defense system. I wanna be known as a great public defense system.” (59:44, Travis)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Dec 16, 2022
75: Opioids, Addiction, and the Alabama Despair Machine w/Leah Nelson and Stacey Fuller

For many, the hearing about the opioid epidemic invokes images deindustrialized towns in West Virginia and Kentucky, but it was actually Alabama with the highest rate of per capita prescription.



Today on the show, Hunter Spoke with Leah Nelson, Research Director at Alabama Appleseed, and Stacey Fuller, a Certified Recovery Support Specialist, to discuss the impacts of opioids and addiction in the state of Alabama.



As with most states, Alabama approached addiction not as a illness to be treated, but as a wrong to be punished. For decades, the state failed to provide resources to those battling with addiction and sought to criminalize such behaviors. Predictably, this did little to curb crime, addiction, or overdose deaths.



While it may not happen overnight, Leah and Stacey are certain that by continuing to highlight the issues facing the state, they will be able to turn the state towards a more rehabilitative model.  




Leah Nelson, Research Director, Alabama Appleseed

Stacey Fuller, Certified Recovery Support Specialist



Key Topics:

How Stacey became involved with the legal system [6:30]

Leah sets the stage for how Alabama approaches the problem of addiction [7:45]

How the system makes addiction more prevalent [13:45]

What is happening at the legislature that enables this? [18:53]

What Stacey provides to people fighting addiction [27:40]

Inroads made with judges and prosecutors to seek non punitive solutions [31:20]

Cost of Addiction in Alabama [33:00]

What has Opioids shown about other drug use in the state [38:45]

How to ensure we don’t redo the war on drugs [42:41]

Lack o trust in the system [49:40]

Moving Alabama forward [53:00]

Alabama Felon Registration Card [59:40]




Alabama Appleseed Bitter Pill Report

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty

Addiction Treatment Centers Alabama



Contact Hunter Parnell:





Dec 14, 2022
74: How Public Defenders can Take Back the Public Safety Narrative w/Emily-Galvin Almanza and Danielle Hopkins

In this episode, Hunter is joined by two inspiring guests from Partners for Justice, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support services to people facing criminal charges while helping public defenders protect people from incarceration and other criminal penalties.


Emily Galvin Almanza is the Founder and Co-Executive Director of Partners for Justice, as well as an advocate in the Harris County Public Defender Office. Starting this organization, which is the only one of its kind in existence, she brings insights into its mission and goals. She’ll share how holistic representation affects recidivism rates and why it is so effective.


Then, you’ll hear from Client Advocate Danielle Hopkins about how she supports her clients by telling their stories and putting the narrative back into their hands. By forcing judges and prosecutors to see her clients as whole people, carceral outcomes have declined.


Finally, you’ll learn about cash bail in Harris County and why it is so problematic. In fact, it’s causing some innocent people to sit in prison for over a year! 


Emily and Danielle dream of a world where people in the indigent system always have top-notch representation. Overall, their work helps people become unstuck from the legal system, turning lives around and saving valuable resources. 

[Editoral Note: At the end of the episode, Danielle mentioned SB 26. She was actually refering to SB 6. Furterhmore, the amount of time people spend in Pre-Trial is now commonly ranging from 160-250 days]

Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Emily and Danielle’s background. [4:17]
  • What Emily looks for in a client advocate. [12:31]
  • What Danielle has learned from her time as a client advocate. [18:02]
  • Danielle shares success stories. [28:02]
  • How holistic representation has affected recidivism rates. [31:40]
  • Pushback to holistic representation. [36:36]
  • Danielle’s advice to people who want to work in her role. [39:53]
  • Where Emily wants the program to go and the roadblocks to getting there. [42:52]
  • Assigned council. [47:36]
  • Problems with cash bail. [54:05]



Emily Galvin Almanza, Founder and Co-Executive Director Partners for Justice

Danielle Hopkins, Partners for Justice Advocate


Partners for Justice 

Follow Emily on Twitter


Memorable Quotes:


“Once you see the sausage getting made, I think it's hard to ever want to eat it again.” (20:51, Hunter)


“People who are sitting in jail today cannot wait for policy approaches that accept their suffering as a necessary cost of system change. I think part of an abolitionist approach has to be fighting for radical change, the erasure of an oppressive and racist system in a way that does not accept the non-consensual suffering of others as a necessary cost.” (22:37, Emily)


“I feel that this work is actually crucial to undermining the system's ability to perpetually exist as it does. And I feel that we are dismantling it. We're just dismantling it in ways that perhaps are too subtle for people to notice.” (26:40, Emily)


“Governments are willing to invest in their public defender once they fully understand what public defenders can do.” (36:16, Emily)


“I like completing things and like achieving something and doing this role, I feel like I'm tangibly doing something for clients as opposed to like feeling like I'm just constantly not able to do anything.” [40:29, Danielle)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Dec 09, 2022
73: How a Sixth Amendment Center Report Sparked Change in Utah Public Defense w/Richard Mauro

Today, Hunter spoke with Richard Mauro, Executive Director of the Salt Lake City Legal Defender Association, to talk all things Utah Public Defense.


Not even a decade ago, Utah and Pennsylvania stood as the last two states who provided exactly zero dollars towards Public Defense. As expected, this created a patchwork system in the state that left places like Utah and Salt Lake County able to afford full time public defense offices while the more rural areas of the state were forced to rely on the cheapest flat rate contract imaginable.


As a result of these flat rate contracts, a culture of met and plea arose. Surprisingly, it was the absence of appeals, despite countless stories of ineffective assistance of counsel, that drove people to start evaluating Public Defense in Utah. As alarm bells started going off, the Sixth Amendment Center’s 2015 report made even more issues come to light.


By the end of this episode, you will have a clear understanding of what has gone right, wrong, and what sparked the change in Utah Public Defense.



Richard Mauro, Executive Director, Salt Lake City Legal Defender Association 


Key Topics:

  • How Richard got into Public Defense [5:30]
  • Differences in Federal Public Defense and Utah’s Public Defense [6:54]
  • Utah Public Defense Before Sixth Amendment Center [8:51]
  • How did the lack of Appeals show issues with Utah PD [11:30]
  • Major findings of the 6AC Report [14:12]
  • How the politics of SLC help Public Defense [18:00]
  • What calculus went into the structure of Utah Public Defense? [22:50]
  • How does the structure of Utah politics help Public Defense? [26:18]
  • How does the Utah Public Defense grant system work? [29:03]
  • Keeping the grant money coming [31:55]
  • Long term goals of the system [38:45]
  • Salt Lake City Public Defense successes and challenges [42:57]


 SLDA Website

Sixth Amendment Center Report

Utah Indigent Defense Commission

Contact Hunter Parnell:







Dec 07, 2022
72: Why it is Time to End Life Sentences w/Alexandra Bailey and Nazgol Ghandnoosh

Most people believe that life sentences keep people safe, but the evidence actually points to the opposite. In fact, life sentences were never originally designed to last for life.  


In this episode, Hunter speaks with two individuals from the Sentencing Project: Campaign Strategist to End Life Imprisonment Alexandra Bailey and Senior Research Analyst Nazgol Ghandnoosh.


They will share evidence to support their claim that safer communities can be created without harsh sentencing. Then, they’ll explain ways that life imprisonment and mandatory minimum negatively affect both families and the criminal system as a whole.


Alexandra and Nazgol both agree that life without parole should be abolished completely, and they’ll give you more effective alternatives that could be implemented instead of harsh sentencing. 


By the time you’re done listening, you’ll be questioning whether the United States has gone too far when it comes to sentencing. 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Nazgol shares her background. [5:36]
  • Why life sentences aren’t actually helpful. [7:13]
  • Tough on crime. [9:05]
  • How lengthy sentences have impacted the criminal system. [12:49]
  • Extreme sentences and age. [20:19]
  • Why life without parole sentences should be abolished entirely. [41:42]
  • Mandatory minimums. [47:30]
  • Alternatives to harsh sentencing. [53:25]




Alexandra Bailey, Campaign Strategist to End Life Imprisonment, Sentencing Project 


Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Senior Research Analyst, Sentencing Project




Sentencing Project 


Lawanda Hollister


Memorable Quotes:


“The death penalty needs to be abolished. It's a barbaric, antiquated punishment that does not serve any function in a modern, civilized society at all. It's gotta go away.” (1:22, Hunter)


“If policing and incarceration made a nation safe, this would be the safest nation on earth.” (9:53 Alexandra)


“When you imprison someone for decades on end, you are holding people incarcerated who are no longer a public safety risk. In several cases like this, the person who they harmed or the survivors of their crime no longer want them to even be incarcerated. But the system's hands are tied by mandatory sentencing policies.” (16:25, Nazgol)


“If mandatory minimums and these extreme sentences are not working, and they're not, then we need to figure out what we're gonna do about it.” (27:52, Alexandra)


“Life sentences and extreme sentences are not only ineffective, but they're actually counterproductive. They're preventing us from actually pursuing policies that would effectively reduce crime rates and prevent future victimization.” (42:54, Nazgol)


“People are human and I think we have to look at this whole system with a lot more compassion.” (55:01, Alexandra)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Dec 02, 2022
71: Every Public Defender Office Needs an Immigration Attorney w/Raha Jorjani


Raha Jorjani is an Immigration Defense Attorney in Alameda County, home of California’s first public defender Immigration Representation Unit. Because our immigration law is founded on the principle that deportation is a civil issue and not a criminal proceeding which, there are few immigration specific public defender units. This denies millions of people the basic right of public defense. 


This episode covers the ideals of America and how our government is willfully disregarding its responsibility to help the people fleeing the countries we have destabilized. Raha shares her personal experience working with clients who may appear like criminals on paper but are often victims of wider circumstances enacted by our own government. To tell their story without those crucial details is not just dishonest but dehumanizing.  


Raha hopes that by sharing these stories and making Americans aware of the reality of what immigrants go through, just to have the opportunity to plead their case, we can break down these antiquated systems. Her office is the first of its kind and is being replicated across the country, hopefully to one day become the standard. America is founded on the principle that all men are created equal so it is up to us to ensure that includes the right to due process, evidentiary hearings and access to counsel. Without these standards of human treatment we are failing as Americans. 



Key Takeaways:

[7:27] Raha’s journey into the role of removal defense attorney

[11:00] Providing seamless representation from one system to the next

[12:40] The distinction between criminal versus civil protections

[19:00] How the needs of non-citizens differ from citizens within criminal proceedings

[25:30] The difficulty comes in conveying the complicated information accurately to the client

[30:00] How policies have changed through each administration

[39:00] The Department of Homeland Security is using detention as a litigation tool

[46:10] The burden to prove why you should be given the opportunity to remain in America

[50:00] Offering asylum for our benefit and not on principle

[53:50] Walter’s case: The consistent failings of our legal system 

[60:30] The opportunity we have to make a positive change



Raha Jorjani, Deputy Public Defender and Supervising Supervising Immigration Defense Attorney, Alameda County Public Defender Office



Alameda Public Defender Office Immigration Unit

Patel v Garland

Fong Yue Ting v. United States

Demore v Kim

Jennings v Rodriguez

Silent Holocaust Guatemala

Manufacturing Consent by Edward Sherman and Noam Chomsky (El Salvador)

Somoza Family Dynasty of Nicaragua



The Jakarta Method by Vincent Bevins (Indonesia, Brazil and many others)

CIA Secret War (Laos and Cambodia)


Title The Story of Walter Cruz-Zavala

The Long Campaign to Deport Walter Cruz-Zavala (


Memorable Quotes:


“In the immigration system, the government can put you behind bars and then tell you it’s your burden to prove. They don’t have to justify why they imprisoned you. You have to justify why you should be free. So you have to prove why you’re not a danger to the community, you have to prove that you’re not a flight risk and Hunter, that's people who are eligible for bond.”  [33:40]


“The power of detention is ultimately used as a litigation tool by the Department of Homeland Security. This is one of the only areas where, if you win, you stay in.”[39:30]


“When people end up in the deportation system, it is almost always after they have been dealt with by the criminal legal system. So even to the extent that people believe in the criminal legal system and the need for accountability and punishment; the double irony is that these folks have already been through that system, so they’ve already served their time.” [43:40]


“Our relationships with countries define how we view people. So, if we don’t agree with a certain country’s position, we tend to welcome people from those countries because we basically want to further entrench the idea that what’s happening there is bad. Whereas other people from other countries could be facing similar types of persecution or violence and we have very many closed door policies.”  [50:24]


Contact Hunter Parnell:



Nov 30, 2022
70: Challenging America's Punishment Bureaucracy w/Alec Karakatsanis

Today, Hunter spoke with Alec Karakatsanis, Founder and Executive Director of Civil Rights Corps, for a discussion about dismantling America’s punishment bureaucracy. With his work at Civil Rights Corps, Alec brought to light the immense human suffering caused by the punishment bureaucracy by highlighting the stories of people caught in it and then pushing massive class action lawsuits.


This model of story collecting, storytelling, and then systemic challenges is one the Alec hopes public defender offices around the country will replicate as the success his organization gets in challenging cash bail becomes more widespread.


However great the successes have been, the bureaucracy will not crumble with a few cuts here and there. Alec, like many of Hunter’s previous guests, calls for more systemic level thinking, systemic level challenges, and implores those with exposure to the usual cruelty of our legal system to collect and share those stories. With enough of those stories, Alec believes the heart’s and minds of attorney and non-attorney alike will change and embrace a more just, equitable, and fair legal system



Alec Karakatsanis, Founder and Executive Director, Civil Rights Corps



Key Topics:

  • Alec’s Career [5:30]
  • Changing the Heart’s and Minds of attorneys and non-attorneys about our legal system [7:44]
  • The balance Public Defenders strike between the current case and the future one [24:58]
  • The issues with Legal Academia [29:58]
  • How to bridge the gap between different parts of the political left [33:40]



Usual Cruelty by Alec Karakatsanis

Civil Rights Corps

Accountability New York


Contact Hunter Parnell:







Nov 25, 2022
69: The Need for Holistic Family Representation w/Center for Family Representation New York

When the whole family is involved, it can make all the difference.


In this episode, Hunter speaks with three inspiring individuals out of Family Representation New York—Parent Advocate Supervisor Teyora Graves-Ferrell, Social Work Supervisor Ysmerlyn Murshed, and Senior Staff Attorney Vasili Stotis.


Each one plays a very specific and important role within their organization, and they explain how they work together to make a positive difference for families in their own ways. Through this, you’ll see that specialization can be a strong superpower for everyone involved in public defense.


Then, they’ll give you a sneak peek into what public defense is like in New York and the unique challenges it brings. Through the city funding many of Family Representation New York’s programs, they are making an investment into the long-term healing of families and the system as a whole.


This is a model that many of the smaller public defense offices are moving towards, and hopefully, with time more of the bigger offices can get the resources they need to put this in place. But for right now, New York serves as the perfect example of how investing in families benefits everyone.


Key Topics/Takeaways:

  • Teyora, Ysmerlyn, & Vasili share their backgrounds. [4:26]
  • What their office does and the roles they fill. [7:09]
  • Why specialization works so well. [11:41]
  • Client reactions to their structure. [16:43]
  • How being in New York City affects their work. [23:58]
  • Why early intervention is so important. [34:04]
  • Funding. [37:56]
  • Ways they create a space for people to be heard. [45:34]
  • How civil courtroom and civil proceedings are used against families. [50:24]
  • What they hope to see in the future. [52:58]



Teyora Graves-Ferrell, Parent Advocate Supervisor

Ysmerlyn Murshed, Social Work Supervisor

Vasili Stotis, Senior Staff Attorney



Center for Family Representation New York 

Just Making a Change for Families 

Is N.Y.'s Child Weldfare System Racist? Some of its own workers say yes.



Memorable Quotes:

“I do this work because at one point in my life, I was a part of this work.” (5:57, Teyora)


“Public defense and everything around criminal defense or civil defense and all these things representing people is teamwork. It's a team effort. And when you don't have that team, it doesn't work well.” (6:58, Hunter)


“Sometimes we are the first people to listen to our clients' stories without judgment, without blaming or shaming them. So I definitely think that makes a big impact and a big difference on how we are showing up.” (19:52, Teyora)


“A lot of the systems in place are racist systems and that can be difficult to express in a courtroom. People don't want to hear that. And even though the systems themselves are built off of these racist policies a lot of judges and a lot of prosecutors don't want to deal with that.” (32:09, Vasili)


“Anyone can be impacted. We've represented case workers, we've represented doctors, nurses, parole officers. In some ways, while the system can target certain communities, it doesn't discriminate.” (Ysmerlyn, 53:52)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Nov 23, 2022
68: Why do we Punish People? w/Kaelen Perrochet

Why do we punish people? What are the goals of punishment and the legal system? At some point in time, we stopped asking ourselves these questions and it led to a legal system that is disjointed, inconsistent, and unnecessarily cruel.


Today, Hunter spoke with Kaelen Perrochet, a Law Student at UCLA Law School, to dig through some of the philosophical underpinnings of any criminal legal system.



For many, people will say that we punish people because it is what they deserve, but what should our legal system look like if that were the actual justification for punishment? For others, we punish people to deter others from committing crimes, but does punishment deter anyone? Rehabilitation and restoration sound good, but can they functionally create a consistent system that people are willing to accept as being legitimate?


All these questions and more will be explored in this awesome episode about the purposes of punishment!




Kaelen Perrochet, Law Student, UCLA Law School

Key Topics:

  • Why study the Philosophy of Law and Punishment [5:30]
  • What changed through studying these topics [8:30]
  • Retribution theory [11:05]
  • Deterrence Theory [16:00]
  • Rehabilitation Theory [20:00]
  • Restorative Theory [23:00]
  • Issues with Prosecutors under various theories [26:45]
  • Where has restorative and rehabilitative models been used? [29:35]
  • Is punishment necessary? [33:00]
  • Does incarceration make us safer? [38:00]
  • Other theories [41:46]
  • Felon Disenfranchisement and its impacts [45:45]
  • What do each of these theories look like when taken to their logical conclusions? [54:30]


Punishment and Inclusion by Andrew Dilts

Punishment by Thom Brooks

Philosophy of Law: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Raymond Wacks


Contact Hunter Parnell:







Nov 21, 2022
67: Managed Assigned Counsel: A Savvy Solution or a Simple Stop Gap? w/Jim Bethke

Can a managed assigned council system be a workable solution to indigent defense problems?


Jim Bethke is the former executive director of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission and the current director of the Managed Assigned Counsel Office in San Antonio. In this episode, he talks about the system that he helped create and the areas he thinks still need work. 


There are three main types of indigent defense representation delivery models: full-time public defender, office contract counsel, and assigned counsel. Texas relies heavily on assigned council, and there are both pros and cons to that. Jim explains why the system is structured this way and its strengths and weaknesses. 


Then, he talks about the impressive work he’s doing in San Antonio to ensure fair representation for all and the ways his office is supporting behavioral health intervention. 


Overall, Jim has an incredibly vast career in public defense and a wealth of knowledge to give. After listening, you’ll finally know your take on assigned council in public defense. 


Key Topics and Takeaways:

  • Background on Jim’s career in public defense. [6:03]
  • What surprised Jim when he took over the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. [23:16]
  • Why Texas has managed assigned council. [25:46]
  • Reasons some of the larger Texas cities don’t have a public defender office. [32:22]
  • Pay rates. [38:22]
  • Behavioral health programs. [44:01]
  • What is happening in response to Dobbs. [56:49]
  • Where Jim wants to see the future of Texas public defense go. [1:04:23]



Jim Bethke, Director, Managed Assigned Counsel Office, Bexar County, Texas



How Lubbock became the model for Indigent Defense 

Public Defense Innovation in Texas Law Review 

Bexar County Managed Assigned Counsel 


Memorable Quotes:

“We are the voice of the poor. They have no voice.” (23:00, Jim)


“A managed assigned council program in many regards is more challenging to run than a public defender office because you're utilizing private attorneys. They're independent contractors, and you can encourage and you can promote and you can provide support, but you can't really direct their operations like you can with an employee.” (27:33, Jim)


“Some folks in the private bar are not that good, but you have also some incredible talent. And if you can get that incredible talent to participate as part of your either managed assigned or private defender, in some regards, you're going to have even better than a public defender.” (35:24, Jim)


“In the numbers that we're dealing with in rural Texas, it's not going to break the bank to get a constitutionally compliant system that's good and fulfills our constitutional and state law requirements.” (55:28, Jim)


“Your rights are only as good as you can defend them in a court of law.” (56:38, Hunter)


Contact Hunter Parnell:



Nov 18, 2022
66: Is Incrementalism Enough to Fix the Criminal Legal System w/Jeff Blackburn

Can people incarcerated afford to wait for small, gradual change? What happens to the people incarcerated if the system breaks? What is the right balance between the needs of the current case vs the needs of the future case? How do Public Defenders counter the decades long strategy of the Conservative legal movement with their own strategy?

All these questions, and more, are pondered by Hunter and his guest today, Jeff Blackburn. During his career, Jeff worked as a criminal defense attorney, impact litigation lawyer and helped to found and operate the Texas Innocence Project. Through it all, Jeff’s aimed to foster and execute a strategic vision for indigent defense and civil liberties that counter’s the work of prosecutors and police. In his eyes, public defenders and other justice minded individuals are in the conflict business and the must learn to value the future battles as much as the current ones. To fail to do so will leave them fighting a battle against an enemy that already made the fight unwinnable, but what is the right balance?

Hopefully, this discussion and the myriad of questions that arise from it will spark your own thinking about how to move towards more strategic levels of thinking.


Jeff Blackburn, Criminal defense and Impact attorney, Co-Founder, Texas Innocence Project

Key Takeaways:

  • Jeff’s career [8:30]
  • What is impact litigation [16:24]
  • Victory in the Tulia Case and the Lesson’s learned from it [17:20]
  • The Texas Innocence Project [21:54]
  • Impacts of the Tim Cole Case [26:00]
  • Learning strategy from the history NAACP Legal Fund [28:30]
  • Countering the Conservative Legal Movement [33:38]
  • Is Incrementalism Enough [38:30]
  • How to balance current case vs future case [46:00]
  • The structural/historical obstacles in many state [53:20]
  • What happens if the system breaks [57:40]
  • Is education the way to solve this [1:01:00]
  • The case for hope [1:10:00]  


Tulia Case:

Tim Cole’s Case

Jeff Calling out Dallas’ Wrongful Conviction Issues

Why Jeff Left the Innocence Project

More of Jeff’s Work



Contact Hunter Parnell:






Nov 16, 2022
65: What Happened to the Prisoners Stuck in Jail During Hurricane Ian? w/Kathy Smith

For Public Defenders who serve in coastal areas, the story on toady’s show will be all too familiar. As Hurricane Ian barrelled toward the Florida coast, a state of emergency was declared and evacuation plans started to come together, but as is almost always the case, no one thought of those incarcerated.


Today, Hunter spoke with Kathy Smith, Chief Public Defender in the 20th Judicial District of Florida, to discuss the impacts of the storm on those left in jail. Dating as far back as memory allows, state’s failed their obligations to protect the lives of people both in and out of jail when natural disasters strike, and Hurricane Ian was no exception. For days, people, many of whom were in jail simply because they could not afford to pay bail, lived with raw sewage and without clean drinking water.


Luckily, no one died from the state’s neglect, but this episode serves as a powerful warning and reminder for those with a duty to protect people’s lives: when a natural disaster strikes, remember the people who cannot evacuate and think of a way to keep them alive.  



Kathy Smith, Chief Public Defender, 20th Judicial District, Florida

Key Takeaways:

  • How Kathy got into this work [6:50]
  • Historical response to natural disasters in the 20th District [10:50]
  • The response to Hurricane Ian in the 20th District [12:34]
  • Who was in the Ft Meyer’s jail and what conditions did they face [18:27]
  • Why pre-trial release is so important [24:42]
  • Impacts and the way forward after Ian [26:41]
  • Does Florida care about the Constitution or just the part it likes? [31:00]
  • Changes for the Future [34:43]
  • People arrested during the storm [38:00]
  • Advice to other Public Defenders [41:20]


USA Today Coverage of those left behind after Ian

More Coverage on Ian

Miami New Times Coverage  

People left in prison during:

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Michael

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Ike, Maria, Matthew, Irene etc.


Contact Hunter Parnell:





Nov 14, 2022
64: How Public Defense can Win the Media Battle w/Maggie Shepard

How can journalists and public defenders work together to bring awareness to the real issues plaguing our court system? Today, Hunter spoke with Maggie Shepard, Director of Communications at the New Mexico Law Offices of the Public Defender, to discuss how public defenders can use media relations to deepen their connection with the community they are working to protect. 


A policy can only be effective if it has adequate momentum behind it and with most offices unwilling to comment publicly, it makes it difficult for the public to fully grasp the issues. There is a lot of bureaucracy in our court system but it does serve a purpose, to protect the rights of the accused. Everytime a public defender refuses to make a comment they miss the opportunity to highlight the deeper issues surrounding the case, which can be done while honoring the anonymity of the client. 


Today’s conversation highlights the real need for communication between the public and the courts and between journalists and public defenders.


Maggie Shepard, Director of Communications, New Mexico Law Offices of the Public Defender

Key Takeaways:

  • Utilizing media relations to fight at the systemic level [2:30]
  • Maggie’s decision to leave journalism to do media relation training [8:10]
  • How narrative and perception shapes reality [10:15]
  • Courtroom journalism rarely grants time to scrutinize the power structure at play [14:30]
  • Deciphering who counts as an “official” source? [19:00]
  • A different way for journalists to get a powerful and evocative story [28:00]
  • Teaching public defenders to speak to the broader story unfolding  [34:00]
  • Policy is only as good as the awareness and pressure behind it [39:14]
  • Bringing media attention to the positive effects of good reform  [42:50]
  • Using language in a way that reminds the public of the process [50:00]
  • It’s possible for public defenders to have media relations without being quoted [53:00]
  • Prison reform is the biggest issue facing New Mexico today [55:40]
  • Teaching journalists what they don’t learn in school [58:00]



Contact Maggie 

Contact Heather at NAPD


Memorable Quotes:

“I was tired of being part of the propaganda machine, honestly, I was tired of playing a harmful role in the narratives that I was telling, so I left my job.” [8:19] -Shepard


“There is a desire, within the department, within the attorneys, to learn how to do this better and there is very clearly a need in the community to have better access to the public defense world and for the information we have as public defenders to get out into the world, into our communities.”  [9:27] -Shepard


“There’s not a lot of thoughtfulness beyond what's in front of me, the actors and the actions and that’s what we focus on. We might call into question the after and the action but we’re not calling into question the machine, the bigger power structure that’s there.”  [14:50] -Shepard


“Good policy, not heard by anybody, isn’t good policy.It’s just a good idea that nobody heard and that's where I think a lot of public defenders and people who want to push these policies fail to understand that policy gets pushed when people hear about it and apply pressure.”  [39:14] -Parnell


Contact Hunter Parnell:





Nov 11, 2022
63: Why do We Punish Domestic Violence Survivors? w/Alexandra Bailey

When does a victim become a suspect? Very often, our legal system cares about someone's status as a victim when it allows the system to incarcerate someone. As soon as you stand in that goal, any harm done to you matters not. 


On today's episode, Hunter spoke with Alexandra Bailey, Campaign Strategist to End Life Imprisonment at the Sentencing Project, to discuss the ways our legal system punishes Domestic Violence Survivors. Specifically, they dive deep into the "Failure to Protect laws" that showcase the latent sexism prevalent in our legal system and the twisted ways in which prosecutors ignore self defense claims when it aids their goal of securing higher conviction rates. 


While some states offer hope at a future where these cases are not happening around the country, places like Oklahoma remind us there is a long uphill battle that people like Alexandra are at the forefront of to end our brutally harsh punishment bureaucracy.


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • How Alexandra got into her line of work. [5:54]
  • An overview of some laws that the Sentencing Project is trying to reform. [7:53]
  • Ways women are uniquely affected by the legal system. [12:20]
  • The DVSJA law. [23:14]
  • Why having a clear and trauma-informed legal standard is important. [29:46]
  • Failure to protect laws. [37:24]
  • Why the policy needs to be changed in Oklahoma. [53:07]
  • What the Sentencing Project is all about. [57:23]


Alexandra Bailey, Campaign Strategist to End Life Imprisonment, Sentencing Project



Sentencing Project

DVSJA Bill News

Oklahoma Failure to Protect

Women’s Prisons Are Filled With Domestic Violence Survivors. A New Type of Law Could Help Them Get Out.

She never hurt her kids. So why is she in prison?


Memorable Quotes:


“It doesn't really matter the circumstances. Women are seen by the legal system as being less credible.” (12:25, Alexandra)


“As of 2020, 47 out of every 100,000 women were in prison, so this is not a failure of any one particular individual. This is the failure of a system that has not provided what families need in order to succeed.” (17:50, Alexandra)


“God bless the public defenders of America because they are so frequently trying to explain trauma to deaf ears. So shout out to all of them.” (29:30, Alexandra)


“There's no shame in improving things. There is no shame in going back and learning and growing. We do it as individuals. There's no reason that this system can't do it too.” (36:32, Alexandra)


“This system takes tools with good intention and wields them in the worst possible way.” (39:11, Alexandra)


“I think we need to start looking at situations as tragedies as opposed to an opportunity to nail someone.” (47:12, Alexandra)


Contact Hunter Parnell:





Nov 09, 2022
62: Why Does the Aurora City Council Want to Dismantle the Public Defender Office w/Doug Wilson

Today, Hunter sat down once again with Doug Wilson, Chief Public Defender in the Aurora Municipal Public Defender Office, to discuss what has unfolded in Aurora, Colorado over the past year. Often, people will ask the question, “Why do you think we don’t fund Public Defender Offices the way we should?” While there are many potential answers to that question, this episode highlights one of the most important ones: Policy makers have an exponentially more tough time incarcerating people when there is a zealous advocate both in and out of the court room for the rights of the accused.



Starting back to last year, the Aurora Public Defender Office has been instrumental in highlighting the misconduct and illegal activity of the prosecution and police of the city. At the same time, the city council marched on towards its mission to incarcerate as many people as possible in a misguided effort to make their community safer. At every step of the way, Doug and his office have been pushing back against the city’s goals.



Now it seems, the city is tired of the pushback. Tune in to hear how the city is attempting to use the language of cost efficiency to mask their true intentions: dismantling the most powerful advocate against their march towards increased incarceration.



Doug Wilson, Chief Public Defender, Aurora, Colorado Municipal Public Defender Office 



Key Topics and Takeaways:

The City Attorney’s Brady violations and the PDO’s role in exposing them [8:22]

How does the PDO impede the goal of the city council [20:41]

How did the city support its mandatory minimum sentencing [25:13]

Is the city council now seeking to dismantle the office? [30:20]

The response from the community [38:03]

The media’s failure to cover this topic [44:30]

Why the fiscal efficiency argument is bogus [52:00]

What is next for Aurora [59:25]



Prosecutors ordered to review cases after Aurora office failed to provide defendants with knowledge of discredited cops


Aurora city attorneys review, notify impacted defendants of lacking ‘Brady letters’


Aurora lawmakers give 1st OK to mandatory jail time for shoplifting, despite lack of cost data


Aurora lawmakers impose mandatory 3 days in jail for shoplifting more than $300


Aurora council defends cuts to diversity office, public defender, police monitor in first round of budget voting


Impacts of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing:


NLADA Report on Aurora Office


ACLU Report on Municipal Courts Colorado



Contact Hunter Parnell:





Nov 07, 2022
61: Uncovering the Misconduct of Police, Prosecutors, and Judges w/Johann Drolshagen

Thanks to the 1963 case of Brady v. Maryland, prosecutors are supposed to give the defense attorneys any evidence that may be beneficial to the defense’s case. Despite this requirement, police misconduct has been allowed to fester for decades as prosecutors and judges openly flaunt their mandates share this evidence. Furthermore, the legal profession itself fails to police prosecutors and judges who allow the misdeeds of police to go unchecked. This entire cycle calls into question decades worth of prosecutions because of potential failures to disclose evidence, but what can be done if everyone in the system is playing a role in allowing the corruption to continue?


This week, Hunter spoke with Johann Drolshagen, to answer that very question. Johann is the CEO of Level Playing Field solutions, and has helped to create a nationwide, publicly accessible database, called the brady list, to make it easier for communities to report and track misconduct by police, prosecutors, and judges. By bringing this information into the light of day, Johann hopes to combat the corruption gripping millions of Americans trapped in our criminal legal system.



Johann Drolshagen, CEO Level Playing Field Solutions


Key Topics and Takeaways:

How Johann got Involved in the criminal legal system reform movement [6:40]

What is Brady [14:00]

How widespread is the issue? [14:40]

How police, prosecutors, and judges skirt Brady requirements [19:00]

The issues with attorneys policing attorneys [26:00]

What is the driving force behind these issues [30:00]

How the Brady List holds the powerful to account [32:00]

The issues facing Missouri and Oklahoma [42:53]

How to cut through the institutional hurdles [1:01:00]

 Do people care about Due Process? [1:05:55]

What have the positive impacts of the list been? [1:10:35]


Brady List


Citizens Overseeing Police Oklahoma

People v Houser

Davis v Normandy

Richard Glossip Case

Follow Johann on Twitter





Contact Hunter Parnell:








Nov 04, 2022
60: How Kansas Public Defense Got Headed in the Right Direction w/Heather Cessna

Heather Cessna, executive director of the Kansas Board of Indigent Services, is dedicated to positively transforming public defense in her state. Since she’s come on board, the quality of services has drastically increased as well as the working conditions for public defenders. 


In this episode, you’ll learn the structure of the Kansas Indigent Defense System, its current problems, and recent wins within the state. Heather has successfully reformed much of the system, and she’ll walk you through her methods and tactics.


This episode proves the difference it makes when an indigent defense system has strong leaders. In her time as executive director, Heather has quickly moved the system in the right direction.


There might still be a long way to go, but Heather brings to this episode a breath of fresh air and a sense of much-needed optimism.


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Heather’s background in public defense. [5:25]
  • The structure of the Kansas Indigent Defense System. [10:56]
  • Problems Heather has tackled under her leadership. [17:00]
  • Heather’s advocacy methods. [23:21]
  • What was learned from the surveys. [38:35]
  • Recent wins. [48:36]
  • Heather’s secret to her success. [58:37]
  • Where Heather wants to see Kansas indigent defense go in the future. [1:01:30]




Heather Cessna, Executive Director, Kansas Board of Indigent Defense Services




Kansas Board of Indigent Defense Services  

Kansas Well Being Committee Work 


Memorable Quotes:


“When we understand the failings and successes of other states, we can leverage that in our own.” (3:44, Hunter)


“If you can't refuse cases, you should be able to.” (28:54, Hunter)


“We have a lack of attorneys problem in Kansas generally. We do not have enough counsel in some of our counties to handle the volume of cases that we have.” (34:06, Heather)


“It does us absolutely no good to pretend like we don't have problems.” (40:05, Heather)


“I often tell people if you think the adult level representation or system is struggling, I promise you the juvenile one is probably doing worse.” (1:04:55, Hunter)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Nov 02, 2022
59: The Lawsuit Pushing to Change the Wisconsin Public Defense w/John Birdsall and Hank Schultz

 Today, Hunter is joined by two guests hoping their lawsuit against the state of Wisconsin will bring vital changes to the State’s Public Defender System. Hank Schultz and John Birdsall have a combined experience of more than 40 years of working as criminal defense attorneys in Wisconsin. Through this experience, they are acutely aware of the history of inadequate pay for contract counsel and tough on crime policies that have pushed indigent defense to a state of crisis.



For decades, the state of Wisconsin paid the attorneys willing to serve as contract counsel for indigent clients a paltry rate of $40 per hour. At that rate, attorneys could not even cover the cost of overhead, and that rate did not change from 1995 until 2020. As a result of these low rates, less and less attorneys were willing to take on cases. Meanwhile, more people were forced to wait months and months just to speak to an attorney. In doing so, the state flagrantly violated the right to counsel and right to speedy trial of countless people, and yet, even raise to $70 per hour the state implemented in 2020 was nowhere close to addressing the magnitude of the problem.



Despite the main issue the state faces being the low pay for contract counsel, Hank and John have sought a creative remedy in their lawsuit. By the end of this episode, you will have a clear understanding of how the state ended being sued, why a lawsuit was necessary, and the potential ways other state’s may be able to learn from this case!!




Hank Schultz, Retired Criminal Defense Attorney, Former Contract Counsel Wisconsin Public Defense

John Birdsall, Criminal Defense Attorney, Former Contract Counsel Wisconsin Public Defense 



Key Topics and Takeaways:

How Hank and John got Involved in Public Defense in Wisconsin [9:20]

Structural Issues with Wisconsin Public Defense [17:20]

How long has Attorney Pay been an Issue in the State [21:17]

History of the Tough on Crime Policies of Wisconsin [24:35]

Attorney Shortages Around the State [29:20]

Goals of the Lawsuit [39:28]

Explaining the Strategy of the Lawsuit [43:10]

Response from the State [50:30]

Response from the Public Defender’s Office [54:33]





History of Low Pay for Contract Counsel

More Insight into Low Pay in Wisconsin

 State v. Nhia Lee

Class action lawsuit calls out lack of state public defenders

Rural Defendants Sue Wisconsin over Indigent Defense

Read the Full Lawsuit Here



Contact Hunter Parnell:








Oct 28, 2022
58: Are Public Defense Unions the Key to Systemic Reform? w/Sam Allison-Natale and Bob Kolstad

Are public defense unions the solution to reform?


In this episode, Hunter speaks with Sam Allison-Natale, Executive Director of the Kansas Holistic Defenders, and Bob Kolstad, a public defender in Hennepin County, Minnesota.


They’ll walk you through everything you need to know about public defense unions and the philosophy behind them. Giving you a behind-the-scenes view, you’ll learn the realities behind unions, the goals, and why they are necessary.


Then, Bob and Sam will discuss collective organizing and the ethics around it. They’ll share how they mobilize public defenders and how they get past the individualistic society of today.


With their endless enthusiasm, Bob and Sam share a refreshing vision of unity and hope. 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Bob and Sam talk about how they got into public defense. [7:02]
  • Why the Minnesota union is so successful. [16:45]
  • The ethics of unionization. [24:00]
  • Why people should take the burden of collective action. [37:10]
  • The racial lens of collective action. [48:07]
  • What led to the Minnesota strike. [57:12]
  • Organizing collective action. [1:02:34]
  • How to get from a place of individuality to unity. [1:07:50]




Sam Allison-Natale, Executive Director, Kansas Holistic Defenders

Bob Kolstad, Public Defender, Hennepin County, Minnesota




Public defenders vote to strike; justice system could come to a halt 

Minnesota’s top public defender reappointed over objections from rank-and-file 

Minnesota’s public defenders vote no confidence in agency head 

The Secrets of a Successful Organizer 

Michelle Alexander Plea Deal Strike 

Email Bob 

Email Sam 


Memorable Quotes:


“The weakness of unions generally in Kansas is something that affects the shape of Kansas politics across the board.” (23:36, Sam)


“The public defense system is under duress. I mean, severe duress.” (24:50, Bob)


“This discussion about collective action versus individual action, and the fact that everybody is stuck in an individual mindset is what allows the system to function.” (33:00, Sam)


“The fact is that organizing for a strike, building a credible strike threat can get people really, really far in fighting for the kinds of things that they need to have.” (40:39, Bob)


“I think that we are in a situation of such dire need that people want to be invited into a struggle for something greater.” (43:13, Hunter)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Oct 26, 2022
57: Why More People and Public Defenders Need to Think and Advocate Systemically w/Olayemi Olurin

This week, Hunter speaks with Olayemi Olurin—a political commentator, writer, activist, and public defender out of the New York Legal Aid Society. She has spent her career advocating for systematic change and brings with her a powerful perspective on the criminal justice system.


There are many common lies and misconceptions that circulate about public defense, reform efforts, and the criminal justice system as a whole. Olayemi will refute these lies and give you an inside glimpse into the true reality of the complicated legal system by walking you through the everyday injustices she faces. 


She’ll talk about her outreach work and the tactics she uses to change the perspectives of both stakeholders and the general public about why reform is important. Olayemi is dedicated to improving advocacy on a systematic level to combat negative and untrue narratives.


Olayemi dreams of a day when public defenders can truly be the voice of their clients. With her energy and passion, she is carving the path for change.


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Olayemi describes her story of going into public defense. [7:28]
  • Turning activism into effective policy. [12:28]
  • How public defense misconceptions get spread. [31:17]
  • Problems with how the justice system treats POC. [35:06]
  • What’s going on at Rikers Island. [39:07]
  • Speedy trials. [47:46]
  • How Olayemi changes perspectives. [51:00]
  • Everyday injustices Olayemi sees as a public defender. [54:16]



Olayemi Olurin, Public Defender, New York Legal Aid Society


Follow on Olayemi Twitter 

Follow Olayemi on Instagram 

Olayemi’s appearance on The Young Turks 

Eric Adams' POLICE STATE Is The Future Democrats Want, But Their Voters DON'T: Olayemi Olurin 

Eric Adams' INCOMPETENT Rikers' Deaths Response Is An ATTACK On Due Process

Olayemi's Thesis 

Olayemi on the SAFE-T Act 


Memorable Quotes:


“It's woefully insufficient for the black community to be, to be as overrepresented as we are in terms of incarceration, but underrepresented in the profession. We make a maybe 5% of attorneys.” (11:39, Olayemi)


“I'm more concerned in shifting public consciousness. It doesn't matter to me what other attorneys think.” (18:12, Olayemi)


“My emotional feeling in a state of when somebody pisses you off should not be a reflection of what our criminal system is or the larger consequences at the end of the day.” (27:52, Olayemi)


 “That's the problem. It's a society that's really just galvanized around whiteness and policing black and brown bodies.” (35:27, Olayemi)


“The reality is, the only way power is maintained is by subjugating somebody else.” (38:41, Olayemi)


“People often bring the criminal system into their lives because they don't understand how it works.” (55:13, Olayemi)


Contact Hunter Parnell:



Oct 21, 2022
56: Could Veteran Treatment Courts be the Key to Unlocking Criminal Justice Reforms? with David Pelletier

Today on the show, Hunter is joined by David Pelletier, a Project Director in the Justice for Veterans division of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, to discuss Veteran Treatment Courts. Founded by a lone judge in Buffalo, New York, Veteran Treatment Courts follow in the 30+ year tradition of broader treatment courts. These courts all seek to offer alternatives to incarceration that drive towards the root causes of someone’s involvement with the criminal legal system through a culturally competent lens.



For Veteran’s Treatment Court, the goal is to offer veterans suffering with acute medical needs a path towards recovery through a process that saves them from lengthy counter productive prison stints. As David shares, these individualized courts that drive at eliminating the root causes that landed someone tied up with the legal system. Yet while the success of the courts is not in question, the courts offer much more for communities to consider.



In many places, communities find themselves holding two thing ideals: they should be tough on crime, but they should also be caring to their veteran populations, and this is where Veteran Treatment Courts have so much potential. By adopting Veteran Treatment Courts, these communities are exposed to the power of viewing each person through a holistic and individualized lens. Hopefully, this may lead communities to consider other treatment courts or even expanding access to care before someone ever becomes entangled with the legal system.



After this conversation, you will hopefully walk away feeling inspired to think about the ways you could help kickstart similar non-carceral interventions in your own community!!





David Pelletier, Project Director, National Association of Drug Court Professionals, Justice For Veterans Division, Marine Corps Veteran


Key Topics and Takeaways:


David’s journey from the Marine Corps to Justice for Veterans [5:38]


What is Veteran Treatment Court? [8:28]


Why do we need a Veteran Treatment Court [14:37]


How can Veteran Treatment Court help criminal justice reform more broadly? [28:40]


How to start a Veteran Treatment Court and what are the benefits of doing so [32:45]


How to represent and relate to a veteran in the legal profession [43:00]


Generational Differences and ongoing issues amongst the Veteran Community [46:40]





 Justice for Veterans Website

State of The American Veteran Survey

Search for Veteran Status

Brock Hunter Special Considerations for Representing Veterans

Brock Hunter's guide to representing Veterans 

Porter V. McCollum, 558 US 30 – Supreme Court 2009

A lawyer provides ineffective assistance of counsel if he or she does not investigate a client’s military service and present aspects of it as potential mitigating factors.12 The Court held that not only was it relevant that the veteran-defendant had “extensive combat experience” and had “served honorably under extreme hardship and gruesome conditions,” but also “that the jury might find mitigating the intense stress and mental and emotional toll that combat took” on the defendant.

One of Hunter’s former guests, Travis Wiener is helped with the making of this really awesome documentary. While it is not in any way affiliated with the Veterans for Justice group, Hunter felt like it was a powerful resource for people to gain insight onto some of the challenges Iraq and Afghanistan veterans face.

Meatgrinder Documentary

Youtube channel: 

Follow David on Twitter

Email David:




Contact Hunter Parnell:








Oct 19, 2022
55: Capital Representation and the Office of the Defender General w/Andrea Lyon

Dubbed by the Chicago Tribune as “The Angel of Death Row”, Andrea Lyon is one of the most successful Capital Case Public Defenders in the country, but she is so much more than that. As an author, educator, former law school dean, and advocate for criminal justice reform, there is next to nothing that Andrea has not done in her career.


On today’s episode, Hunter and Andrea discuss her experience as a Capital Public Defender, in Academia, and most importantly, her push to create the Office of the Defender General at the State Level. There are many reasons why it is essential to create the office, but none may be more important than the desperate for Public Defenders and the defense bar to play a larger role in policy decisions at the federal level.


It is so important that Hunter pulled out that section of the conversation and released it as its own episode. If you want to hear Andrea’s thoughts on the Office of the Defender General you can find it at the end of this one or on the other episode released today. However you go about it, it is essential to hear Andrea out and begin thinking seriously about pushing for deeper systemic changes to our legal system.




Andrea Lyon, Capital Defense Attorney, Former Capital Public Defender, Author, Educator, and Former Dean of Valparaiso Law School




Key Topics and Takeaways:


 How did Andrea Start off in this Work [8:30]


Things that Stood Out in Andrea’s Career as a Capital Public Defender [10:45]


Andrea’s motivation for staying active in Capital Representation [20:47]


The arguments that helped Andrea be a success in Capital Representation [24:45]


How can Law school Improve the way it teaches the practice of law vs the theory of law [34:40]


The need for the Defender General [51:21]


How RICO is used and abused and how a Defender General could have stopped similar policies from being implemented [54:30]


How the Defender General would Operate [1:01:00]





Andrea Lyon Website



Follow Andrea on Twitter



Check out Andrea’s Book




Office of Defender General Website








Contact Hunter Parnell:











Oct 14, 2022
Andrea Lyon on the Need for the Defender General

Every minute of the full conversation with Andrea Lyon is available to listen to, but Hunter wanted to make sure everyone had an easy time accessing the last 30 minutes of the conversation where the discuss a potential Office of the Defender General at the Federal Level!




Andrea Lyon, Capital Defense Attorney, Former Capital Public Defender, Author, Educator, and Former Dean of Valparaiso Law School





Andrea Lyon Website



Follow Andrea on Twitter



Check out Andrea’s Book




Office of Defender General Website








Contact Hunter Parnell:











Oct 14, 2022
54: The Public Defense Union Pushing to Change Colorado Public Defense with The Defender's Union of Colorado

In this episode, I speak with three inspiring individuals: Michelle Sages, a Lead Deputy State Public Defender of the Denver Trial Office, Travis Weiner, a Deputy State Public Defender of the Greeley Regional Office, and James Hardy, a Lead Deputy Public Defender in the Appellate Division of the Colorado State Public Defender. 


Together, they speak on The Defender’s Union of Colorado and why it’s essential to have a public service union. Then, they go into how they have been working with both state officials and the general public to gain support for their cause.


They’ll wipe away all misconceptions about public service unions and prove that despite the criticisms, a union is beneficial for everyone involved.


Even though Colorado is in the top 5 states with the strongest public defense system, there is still a long way to go. Public service employees are still drastically underpaid and overworked, while clients are not receiving fair access to representation.


Michelle, Travis, and James are actively advocating for a system that ensures public service employees can keep up with the requirements of their job while clients can get the help they desperately need. With their passion for transforming the system, Colorado public defense has a much brighter future. 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Michelle, Travis, and James explain how they got into public defense. [7:06]
  • Why the defense union was created. [12:36]
  • Reasons public service and a union are not in conflict. [28:45]
  • Biggest goals of the union. [36:38]
  • Problems with the leadership in public defense. [37:34]
  • The legal & structural issues that the union faces. [56:06]
  • How the union avoids becoming public defender centered. [1:10:57]
  • Policy work that needs to be done. [1:17:11]
  • The future of Colorado public defense. [1:27:32]
  • Why the union is necessary. [1:33:43]




Michelle Sages, Lead Deputy State Public Defender, Denver Trial Office


Travis Weiner, Deputy State Public Defender, Greeley Regional Office


James Hardy, Lead Deputy Public Defender, Appellate Division, Colorado State Public Defender




Defender Union of Colorado 


Polis, Democratic lawmakers and local governments are all squaring off over public bargaining rights 


Colorado’s Public Defender’s Office workers announce a union effort, but state laws stand in their way 


Colorado’s public defenders launch union drive for lawyers and support staff. But there’s a catch. 


"Highly Overworked and Grossly Underpaid": Why Public Defenders Launched a Union 


Memorable Quotes:


“If we can't do this work without all of us, we need to improve the conditions for all of us.” (13:16, Travis)


“I think a lot of people leave because they believe that the work is so important and they find themselves unable to do it in a satisfactory way within the system.” (18:31, Michelle)


“Our goal as a union is to provide the best client representation we possibly can and to ensure effective representation for all of our clients and where we feel like that our system is falling short is in retention and creating a sustainable career path for folks, which long term hurts our clients' representation.” (29:30, James)

“One of the problems with the revolving door system is oftentimes for supervisor positions, it's not who's the most qualified or the best fit, it's who's up next, Is that the best way to train the next generation of public defenders? Is that the best way to select someone that brand new public defenders are gonna look to and model after? I don't think so.” (37:52, James)


“Everybody knows it is a totally open secret that it is a completely unconstitutional, dysfunctional system and people are not getting the representation that they deserve and need.” (43:57, Travis)


“The system does not work if every gear in it is not functioning properly.” (1:06:26, Travis)


“Having a system that's not functioning well does not benefit victims of these crimes either.” (1:08:17, Michelle)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Oct 12, 2022
53: What is Causing the Crisis in Oregon Public Defense w/Chris O'Connor

The Oregon Public Defender System is broken. Due to a shortage of attorneys willing to take on the cases, hundreds of people wait for months without ever having an attorney appointed to their case. During this wait, they are often required to return to court to mandate another hearing because attorneys are not available to take the case. With each passing day, evidence grows harder to find, the memories of potential witnesses fade away, and whatever trust the accused had in the legal system withers and dies.



To help Hunter understand how this crisis consumed Oregon Public Defense, he spoke with Chris O’Connor, a Public Defender at the Metropolitan Public Defender in Multnomah County Oregon. After 20 years as a Public Defender, Chris is the perfect guest to help understand the history and decisions leading up to the crisis.



As he reveals, report after report over the years have continuously showcased the many failings of the overly complex, contract based public defender system. Yet despite the issues being obvious, the legislature and the judiciary continued to allow the issue to fester. This episode is a must listen if you want to best understand the uphill battle the Public Defenders in Oregon are facing!




Chris O’Connor, Public Defender, Metropolitan Public Defender Office, Multnomah County Oregon


Key Topics and Takeaways:


 How did Chris start off as a PD [8:11]


Structure and History of Oregon Public Defense [10:21]


Findings and Impacts of the Sixth Amendment Center [14:30]


Why does the contract model still persist in Oregon? [20:48]


Can this system work? [25:15]


Impacts of Drug Decriminalization [28:45]


How this crisis has been framed by the media and the lack of accountability by the judiciary and the legislature [31:44]


Why do people have to come to court 12 times just to have a case dismissed [38:55]


The judicial cowardice problem [40:00]


The impacts of the attorney shortage [42:00]


The judicial coup that hit the PDSC [53:00]


What can be done [1:02:00]





Multnomah County Public Defender


Follow Chris on Twitter


Sixth Amendment Center Report


Vice Investigative Reporting on Public Defender Crisis


‘No sense of justice’: Hundreds cycling through Oregon courts without public defenders


Firing of Stephen Singer


Oregon Public Defense Law Suit



ABA Report on Oregon Public Defense



Contact Hunter Parnell:








Oct 07, 2022
52: The Court Fines and Fees that Fund Alabama with Adam Danneman and Leah Nelson

What is the true impact of fines and fees?


In this episode, I speak with two inspiring individuals—Adam Danneman, the Chief Public Defender of Jefferson County, Alabama, and Leah Nelson, the Research Director of Alabama Appleseed. They bring with them two unique perspectives and a boatload of passion for public defense.


Alabama does not have a universal indigent defense system and there is no obligation for any county in the state to operate a specific type of public defender system. Together, Adam and Leah talk about the specific challenges that this setup creates and how they work within this system.


Overall, Adam and Leah give advice to people who don’t live in the south on how to move past their preconceived notions. After this episode, you’ll look at southerners in an entirely new way!


Key Topics and Takeaways:

  • Adam and Leah introduce themselves and explain their role in public defense. [9:02]
  • An overview of the structure of Alabama’s indigent defense system. [14:37]
  • Witnesses and investigators. [20:15]
  • Why there is a lack of treatment in prisons. [29:59]
  • The top issues impacting public defense representation in Alabama. [32:45]
  • Why a speedy trial isn’t a guaranteed right under the Constitution. [35:52]
  • Issues with fines and fees in Alabama public defense. [38:38]
  • Alabama’s indigency determination standard. [57:50]



Adam Danneman, Chief Public Defender, Jefferson County, Alabama,

Leah Nelson, Research Director, Alabama Appleseed



Alabama Appleseed Report 

New York Times Article

Jefferson County Public Defender

1901 by Shake the Field with Felt Five Thompson is an impactful song about Alabama's white supremacist 1901 constitution. One of the rappers, Evan Milligan, is also the plaintiff in Milligan v Merrill, a case challenging Alabama's decision to pack Black voters into a single congressional district. This case will be argued at the U.S. Supreme Court on October 4th, 2022.

Memorable Quotes:


“Do not leave behind the south, do not leave behind Alabama because you think it is not worth helping.” (7:15, Hunter)


“Making sure that people have qualified counsel is a high priority for me and for Apple Seed, but it's not a high priority for our legislature.” (16:30, Leah)


“One fair negative stereotype about public defenders, not just in Alabama, but everywhere, is that we're overworked.” (33:08, Adam)


“Pretty much every crime in Alabama comes with some financial penalty on top of maybe jail or prison time.” (39:11, Leah)


“We really undermine public safety and we undermine the independent judiciary and independent prosecution system when we force prosecutors and the courts to generate revenue for the state.” (53:46, Leah)


“We spend more money in Alabama, probably everywhere to collect this debt than it actually brings in if we recovered all.” (1:05:10, Adam)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Oct 05, 2022
51: The Texas Capital Punishment System is Designed to Kill w/Ray Keith

When people discuss the criminal legal system, you may often hear someone say, “the system is not broken. It is acting exactly was it was designed.” On today’s episode, Hunter and guest Ray Keith discuss the ways in which the legal system in Texas is designed to kill people.


As the head of the Regional Public Defenders for Capital Cases in Texas, Ray is intimately familiar with the statutory language and process that directs the jury towards a death penalty over life. While this is a highly technical episode, it is important to dig down into the weeds to examine the insidious ways the legal system is operating exactly as it was intended.


Hopefully, this episode will also spark a curiosity in you to understand the complex legal technicalities in your own state may drive harsher punishments. While Texas is the focus of this episode, we know they are not alone in designing a system with the goal of producing the harshest possible outcomes for those being processed through it



Ray Keith, Chief Public Defender, Regional Public Defenders for Capital Cases, Texas


Key Topics and Takeaways:


What the RPDO does and how Ray got there [7:40]

Difficulties of being a Criminal Defense Attorney in Texas [13:20]

The Texas Capital Statute [15:36]

How a Capital Jury is Selected [20:00]

The Questions you Can't ask a Jury [27:00]

The Punishment Phase of a Capital Case [30:46]

Why Doesn't Texas Explain "Reasonable Doubt" to Jurors [32:30]

The Questions Jurors need to Answer to Give the Death Penalty [34:70]

The "Evidence" Used to Prove Future Threat [40:00]

Why Rehabilitation is disregarded in Texas Capital Cases [45:00]

The Second Question Jurors Consider [48:00]

How the State Proves Someone Should be Killed [50:00]

The Way Jury Instructions Lead to Death Sentences [58:00]

Why Is this So Hard to Fix and What Can be Done [1:03:00]



Regional Public Defenders for Capital Cases Website



Texas Indigent Defense Commission



Contact Hunter Parnell:








Sep 30, 2022
50: The Fees Making People Pay for Their "Free" Attorney w/Marea Beeman

Today, Hunter sat down with Marea Beeman, Director of Research Initiatives for Defender Legal Services at the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA), to discuss their recent report, “At What Cost? Findings from an Examination into the Imposition of Public Defense System Fees.


If you ask the average person what the word “free” means, they will likely tell you it means whatever is considered “free” does not have any cost associated with it. So, when people hear, “If you cannot afford counsel, one will be appointed to you at no cost to yourself”, people would likely assume that this attorney is “free”. Anyone who is familiar with our legal system, however, will inform you that you will likely have to pay for your Public Defender. In fact, in many states, the first time you appear before a judge, that judge will make clear to you that your counsel will cost you.


From a top-down look at all 50 states, to deep dives into the Public Defender fees in Oklahoma, Iowa, and New Hampshire, Marea and Hunter discuss the various ways these fees trap people in never ending cycles of debt that can lead to future incarceration, loss of driving privileges, and work to perpetuate a broken, predatory legal system




Marea Beeman, Director of Research Initiatives for Defender Legal Services at the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA),


Key Topics and Takeaways:

How Marea got into this work [8:00]


What is the NLADA [9:30]


What do you mean my “free attorney” isn’t free [10:30]


Difference Between Fines and Fees [14:20]


Methodology of the Study [17:50]


The Issues with Indigency Determination [21:00]


Findings from Oklahoma [26:13]


Findings in Iowa [39:40]


Findings in New Hampshire [53:00]


Solutions to the Issue [57:00]




NLADA Report


NY Times Report on Alabama Fees and Fines


Alabama Appleseed Report


Fuller v Oregon (SCOTUS found there is a legitimate interest in states recovering the cost of representation)


Bearden v Georgia




Follow NLADA on Twitter



Contact Hunter Parnell:






Sep 28, 2022
49: How did Arizona Become so Pro-Mass Incarceration and What Can be Done About it? w/Nate Wade and Katie Gipson-McLean

Today Hunter had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Nate Wade and Katie Gipson-McLean, two public defenders from the Arizona. Of all the episodes, this may be the one that makes you the most pissed off.


From the outset, Katie and Nate drop story after story that reveals the deeply regressive and reactionary structure sustaining the status quo of mass incarceration in Arizona. From the powerful money interests in the DOC, to the work of a single, motivated individual, Arizona can easily be described as one of the most pro carceral states in America. Constantly ranking at the top leader boards in state spending on incarceration, Arizona is this way by design.


Despite all of the issues laid out (and there are a lot of them), Hunter hopes you walk away with hope that change in a place like this is possible because of the dedication and determination of fighters like Nate and Katie!!


Nate Wade, Public Defender, Pinal County, Arizona

Katie Gipson-McLean, Public Defender, Maricopa County, Arizona

Key Topics and Takeaways:

How Nate and Katie got into Public Defense [8:06]

Inconsistencies from county to county in Arizona Public Defense and Criminal Justice [12:00]

Understanding the Politics of Arizona [21:29]

How a single person shapes Arizona criminal justice policies [32:33]

Can punishment have a deterrent effect? [36:45]

The corruption and power influencing Arizona reforms [39:10]

Why it is so difficult for defense attorneys to have their voices heard in Arizona [50:30]

Katie describes the broken plea bargaining in Maricopa County [57:00]

The impacts of the Victim’s Bill of Rights on public defense [1:03:34]

Hope for change in Arizona [1:14:00]



Maricopa County Public Defender

Maricopa County Know Your Rights Podcast

Pinal County Public Defender Office

Arizona communities would 'collapse' without cheap prison labor, Corrections director says

Mass Liberation

The Invisible Hand of Steve Twist

How an Arizona man who’s never held elected office has shaped one of America’s most punitive criminal justice systems.

Arizona Criminal Justice Commission Check out there board and the lack of defense counsel!!

Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA)

Follow Katie on Twitter

Follow Nate on Twitter

Contact Hunter Parnell:





Sep 23, 2022
48: The Recent Victories Igniting New Hope for Missouri Public Defense w/Mary Fox

Today, Hunter revisited Public Defense in the state of Missouri with a conversation with Mary Fox. Mary is the Director of the Missouri State Public Defender system, and this conversation picks up where Hunter’s conversation with ACLU attorney, Anthony Rothert left off.


Back in March, Hunter and Anthony discussed the history of Public Defense in Missouri and why the ACLU brought sued the state for its failure to provide counsel to all who could not afford it. While Hunter highly recommends checking out that episode, it stopped short of talking about the ways in which the Missouri Public Defender’s responded to the lawsuits. That’s where Mary steps in.


Since the second lawsuit was filed, Mary and the Public Defenders of Missouri have fought and won several key victories for more funding and more staffing. The doom and gloom of the previous episode is no where to be found, as Mary highlights the hope that now fills Missouri Public Defender System!



Mary Fox, Director, Missouri State Public Defender


Key Topics and Takeaways:

Mary’s Background and journey to being the Director [7:13]

What Mary walked into when she took over in 2020 [13:47]

 How Mary was able to win the fight [16:00]

Maintaing the Momentum in Missouri [22:00]

Recruiting new attorneys to come to Missouri [24:45]

How the Death Penalty works in Missouri [29:45]

Tackling the issues around Sexual Violent Offenders [37:59]

Indigency Determination in the State of Missouri [41:50]

Concerns around Municipal Courts in Missouri [49:10]

Fees paid to Contract Attorneys in Missouri [55:20]

Mary’s goals for public defense in the future [1:00:28]




Missouri Public Defender

2021 Missouri Public Defender Annual Report

Missouri lawmakers recognized for legislation supporting court automation, public defenders

The ACLU of Missouri applauds the Missouri Legislature for its work in allocating $3.6 million in funding to the Missouri Public Defender System in this year’s budget.

Messenger: New fellowship could ease public defender shortage in rural Missouri

Missouri public defenders set to hire 53 attorneys with extra funds in state budget


With fresh state funding, understaffed public defender system looks to hire


Contact Hunter Parnell:






Sep 21, 2022
47: In Small-Town Georgia, A Broken Taillight Can Lead to Spiraling Debt w/Nick Barber

Today, Hunter sat down with Nick Barber, author of a recent piece in the magazine In These Times called “In Small-Town Georgia, A Broken Taillight Can Lead to Spiraling Debt”. In his investigation and writing, Nick uncovered a corrupt private probation system that keeps people under control of the state for years in what appears to be an effort to generate revenue for Clayton, Georgia and for the company.


As is so often the case, Nick highlights the story of two poor people who lives were upended by this abusive system of debt, and it is clear throughout the work that at no point in time did the city ask, “Does this actually improve public safety?” From this episode, Hunter hopes you are able to walk away with a better understanding of the insidious ways in which we have forced small towns around the country have trapped countless Americans in a cycle of poverty through the crushing force of the criminal legal system.



Nick Barber, Journalist and Former Investigator for the Southern Center for Human Rights


Key Topics and Takeaways:


Nick’s work with the Southern Center for Human Rights and finding this story [7:15]

Nick’s advice to those who want to get into Court Watching [11:00]

Background on Clayton, Georgia and Municipal Courts [13:50]

The Impacts of Private Probation on Ms. Lynn Davis [18:10]

Where is the Public Defender in Clayton, Georiga? [27:00]

The Impacts of Judge Sneed on revenue generated through fines and fees [31:38]

 How the system trapped a 72 year old woman in years of debt [35:30]

How Georgia tried to address Private Probation [37:30]

How Clayton Georgia worked around the State’s remedy [40:00]

Private Probation and Predatory Municipal Finance [44:50]

The impacts of smaller federal spending on small town America [50:00]

Has the private probation system improved [54:30]

Will things change in the state? [58:00]



In These Times Article

The Bonds of Inequality

Conditions in a New Mexico Jail

Follow Nick on Twitter


Contact Hunter Parnell:






Sep 16, 2022
46: Fighting Gun Violence Without Using Mass Incarceration in Cook County, IL w/Sharone Mitchell

Today, Hunter spoke with Sharone Mitchell Jr., Chief Public Defender in Cook County about a few extremely timely topics: Guns and Bail Reform.


Born and raised in Chicago, Sharone understands the needs of his community and you can easily see how his experience helps to inform the way he pushes for and speaks about reform in Cook County. At the center of those pushes are tackling the issue of gun violence in the city without feeding America’s addiction to mass incarceration. Hunter really enjoyed the nuanced conversation about the ways in which gun violence and possession can be addressed without further harming poor Black and Hispanic communities in the city.


Lastly, Hunter and Sharone took a deep dive on the newest massive criminal justice reform legislation in Illinois, the Pre Trial Fairness Act, what it does, how it helps, and how people are already blaming it for everything before the Act even goes into effect.



Sharone Mitchell Jr., Chief Public Defender, Cook County


Key Topics and Takeaways:

From Growing up in Chicago to Being the Chief Defender [5:30]

What People Misunderstand About Those in the Legal System [9:00]

Why Sharone Wanted to Be a Public Defender [11:00]

Differences and Similarities Between Cook County Public Defense and the Rest of the State [16:05]

The Nuance of the Gun Control Debate [24:00]

The Realities of Gun Restrictions in Cook County [29:00]

Why it is So Difficult to Fight the Status Quo on Gun Possession [38:00]

The Details of the Illinois Pre-Trial Fairness Act [46:50]



NYSRPA v Bruen




6th Amendment Center Report on Illinois


Sharone’s Piece in the Nation on the impact of Gun Laws


Sharone on First Person podcast


Recent Op-ed pieceby two Cook County Assistant Public Defenders


Recent Block Club Chicago storyon some of the issues


Recent Injustice Watch storyon even more issues with gun possession charges


Here is a basic overview of the Pretrial Fairness Act. The state is ending money bond on Jan. 1, but there are other important reforms.

Follow the Cook County PD Office on Twitter 


Follow Sharone on Twitter 


Contact Hunter Parnell:





Sep 14, 2022
45: Lawyers, Social Workers, Investigators, and the Whole Team that Makes the NAPD w/Lori James-Townes

Today, Hunter sat down with Lori James-Townes, Executive Director of the largest Public Defense Association in the country, the National Association of Public Defense. After conversations with Jeff Sherr, Heather Hall, and countless other members of NAPD, listeners will likely be familiar with the organization, but Hunter wanted to speak with Lori to highlight a specific aspect of the association and the Public Defense movement at large: it is about more than lawyers. Lori is not an attorney by trade, and her experience in social work reminds us how essential it is to build public defender teams with more than just attorneys in mind.


Without question, zealous advocacy in the court room is the primary focus of Public Defense, but that advocacy can only go so far with a team of strictly lawyers. Paralegals, social workers, investigators, administrative staff, and others, all are essential to maximizing the representation clients can expect to receive. Enjoy this conversation with Lori and Hunter as they explore how to continue to expand the NAPD to cities and states around the country!



Lori James-Townes, Executive Director of the National Association of Public Defense


Key Topics and Takeaways:

Lori’s Journey to Become the Executive Director [5:58]

What We can Learn from the Brittney Griner Case [17:10]

Why Lori Wanted to be the Executive Director Role [22:30]

Pushing For Policy Reform at the National Level [32:00]

Bridging Gap in the Generational Differences in Public Defenders [36:50]

How to Lift up the Voice of those Impacted by Mass Incarceration [42:51]

Improving Public Defender Media Relations [50:08]

Improving Outreach in Law School and Improving Law School’s Curriculum [1:02:08]


National Association of Public Defense

Follow NAPD on Twitter

Follow NAPD on Facebook


Contact Hunter Parnell:






Sep 09, 2022
44: Community Outreach and Staffing Shortages in Miami Public Defense w/Carlos Martinez

Today, Hunter sat down with Carlos Martinez, the Chief Defender in the Miami Public Defender Office. With more than 30 years of experience as a Public Defender in Miami, Carlos Martinez has seen a little bit of everything in the office, but his experience extends past the court room. As a native son of Miami, Carlos relies on his personal experiences to help shape his offices outreach into the community. In speaking with Carlos I was struck by the thoughtful manner in which he approaches his responsibilities as an elected official and the importance of being an office that is constantly reaching out into the community.


In this discussion, you’ll hear Carlos talk about his early influences that drove him towards public defense, the challenges of staffing and funding shortages that his office currently faces, and much much more!


Carlos Martinez, Chief Public Defender, 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida 

Key Topics and Takeaways:

How Carlos Got to be the Chief Public Defender [6:22]

Inspiring the Hispanic Community Through Action and Outreach [17:10]

Successes in Community Outreach [23:10]

The Impacts of Being an Elected Official [28:30]

Manning and Funding Shortages [40:47]

Why the Judiciary is so Reluctant for Change [49:30]

Why is There a Shortage of Prosecutors in Miami [55:00]

Sustaining the Victories [58:00]



 Law Offices of the Miami Public Defender

Consequences of Arrest in Miami

Record Sealing and Expungement


Follow Carlos on Twitter



Contact Hunter Parnell:






Sep 07, 2022
43: The Problem with Plea Deals with Professor Carissa Byrne Hessick

If you believed the many legal dramas in TV reflected actual court proceedings, you would be under the impression that our legal system is driven by the battle of wits between two lawyers at trial. If, however, you examine how our legal system operates, you would see that long ago our system became one where trials are rare. Instead, it is the plea bargain sitting at the bedrock of our legal system, but how did this happen? How did our country go from outright rejecting plea bargains so that a jury trial may happen to a country that actively punishes those who seek out a trial?


All that and more is at the forefront of this discussion between Hunter and Professor Carissa Byrne Hessick. Our guest is a law professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and author of the book Punishment Without Trial: Why Plea Bargaining is bad Deal. As the title suggests and as many of my guests know, plea bargaining is likely not the best for the accused, for the alleged victims, or for society at large, but what is lost when we allow justice to be negotiated behind closed doors? Tune in to this episode to find out!


Carissa Byrne Hessick, Anne Shea Ransdell and William Garland "Buck" Ransdell, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill



Key Topics and Takeaways:


Why Carissa Wanted to Write this Book [6:00]

Carissa’s viewpoints on the legal system prior to writing [8:00]

How did Plea Bargaining become so prevalent? [13:37]

How lawyers reacted to the rise of Plea Bargaining [17:00]

Santabello v New York and SCOTUS’ endorsement of Plea Bargaining [20:00]

The Trial Penalty [22:00]

The Role of The Chief Justice in Court Admin [25:00]

Picking Apart Arguments for Plea Deals [28:00]

How Plea Deals can Hide the Truth [31:00]

Do Prosecutors have too much power and too many responsibilities? [35:00]

The Stories of Scott Hechinger as a Brooklyn Defender [39:00]

How Arizona circumvents Brady Requirements [45:00]

The Discretionary Nature of our Legal System via Jury Trials [51:00]

“Why Would you Plea Guilty to Something you Didn’t Do? [57:00]

How Could Law School do Better? [1:12:00]

What to do about Plea Bargaining [1:20:00]


Purchase Punishment Without Trial!!

UNC Chapel Hill Bio


Follow Carissa on Twitter


Contact Hunter Parnell:







Sep 02, 2022
42: The Essential Role of Social Work and Mitigation Specialists in Public Defense with Justin Heim

Justin Heim - Staff Development Program Specialist (Training Division), Wisconsin State Public Defender - joins this episode to breaks down what a social worker really is and helps us define their role in the legal system.

Trauma is something that is not only affecting the community but the agents working to help as well. Justin believes a renaissance is beginning as our culture accepts that emotional intelligence is an integral part to our functionality, both in and out of the system. Without pausing to process, we can easily endanger our community by not coming into these high risk situations with the compassion they deserve. I hope you leave today with a new perspective of our culture's craving for punishment.


Key Takeaways:

  • What is a Social Worker? [8:20]
  • A new approach: Shifting towards emotional intelligence [12:45]
  • The overlooked reality that experiencing trauma is inevitable for social workers [13:25]
  • The traumatic imprint of a situation will manifest  [15:30]
  • Crisis response teams: assessing if someone is a danger to themselves [19:00]
  • Retraining for moments of crisis: Teaming with Police  to de-escalate situations  [22:30]
  • Making difficult decisions on behalf of people who need help in moments of crisis [25:00]
  • When does my right to choose something start to impede on your right to safety? [29:00]
  • Social workers are necessary to help attorney’s understand the client's story [37:00]
  • Community correction agents and pre investigations for sentencing   [46:22]
  • Compassion fatigue and moral injury in the public defenders [48:45]
  • The work is never ending so you do have take the time to care for yourself [58:00]
  • Social workers will intuitively get involved in the transformative justice movement [62:10]
  • Helping victims understand that punishment is not always useful [64:30]
  • Punishment is not always the solution [68:00]






Memorable Quotes:

“It has to change because…it’s not transactional law, criminal defense is not transactional law, you are working with human beings, human beings who have experienced trauma. You will experience trauma, right? Your colleagues are traumatized. This work takes a lot out of people and we need to acknowledge that.”[13:25]


“If we went with law enforcement, they would often let us lead, right, as far as building that rapport and then if it came to that point of like it seems like this isn’t safe…almost every single time it was not any confrontation necessary. It might have been against the person’s will, they did not want to come but I feel like if the officers are skilled enough and working together with community mental health folks that is really the best situation.” [20:37]


“Sometimes when someone is saying “‘I don’t want to be hospitalized, I don’t want to take my medication” previously sometimes they told you “when I say this, please give me my medication, please hospitalize me” right so, it’s not as easy as like, the best interest verses what their expressed interest was because sometimes those things get confused depending on the situation.”  [25:27]


“We are educated to find punishment pleasurable, if we can see another and judge them as wrong, If we have some rules and we know this is right and this is wrong therefor I get to say you’re wrong and you should be punished  it increases my sense of rightness.” [67:40]

Aug 31, 2022
41: Turning Public Defender Priorities into Public Policy Victories with Brad Haywood and Bryan Kennedy

There are only so many victories that can happen for Public Defense in a court room. Of course, we should the goal should be zealous advocacy and the best outcome for each client, but a single victory in a single case is not enough to stem the tide of Mass Incarceration. Real victories for the accused come at the policy level, and that is what this week’s conversation is all about. Joining Hunter this week is Brad Haywood and Bryan Kennedy, two public defenders in Virginia and members of the non-partisan policy advocacy group, Justice Forward Virginia!


Throughout the conversation, both Brad and Bryan highlight the importance of brining the public defender voice to the policy table. Without that voice, policy makers are often directed by the only criminal justice stakeholders in the room: Police and Prosecutors. Organizations like Justice Forward, while difficult to start and sustain, are an essential factor for those looking to zealously fight for public defense reform at the level where small changes make the most impact.



Brad Haywood, Chief Public Defender, Arlington VA

Bryan Kennedy, Assistant Public Defender, Fairfax VA


Key Topics and Takeaways:

Introduction to Brad, Bryan, and Justice Forward [6:30]


How to fill the knowledge gap between the theory of law and the practice of law [12:45]


The importance of having a public defender at the policy table [15:40]


Policy Victories for Justice Forward [21:10]


Sustaining Victories and Understanding the Political Landscape of Virginia [28:19]


Lies perpetuated by the media about Criminal Justice Reform [37:00]


Impacts of Virginia Laws on Racial Minorites [42:50]


How to Best Message Progressive Criminal Justice Policies [49:50]


Advice for those seeking Policy Reform [57:50]



Justice Forward Virginia


Example of Media Bias Around Shooting in Arlington


Follow them on twitter:

Brad Haywood @BradleyRHaywood

Bryan Kennedy @kennedybtd

Justive Foward Virginia 



Contact Hunter Parnell:





Aug 26, 2022
40: How Moral Injury, Stress, and Trauma Impact Public Defense with Jenny Andrews

Jenny Andrews is the Director of Training for California’s Indigent Defense Improvement Division. She’s here today to teach you what public defense is truly like from the defender’s side.


Public defenders are often trapped between a rock and a hard place because they want to provide equal representation access, yet are expected to work too many hours for not enough pay. Because of this, “martyr complex” is prevalent in this field.


You’ll learn that public defense is an area of service, but that this often comes at the expense of the defender’s mental health. Jenny will walk you through how she’s helping implement self-care practices into nation wide and why self-care is vital to providing zealous representation!


Throughout this episode, remember that ultiamtely, it is the client who sufferes when the public defender suffers in silence


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Jenny’s background and how she got started in public defense. [7:50]
  • Why Jenny burnt out and left the industry. [14:18]
  • Moral injury. [21:58]
  • Self-care in public defense. [26:32]
  • Secondary trauma. [33:36]
  • How Jenny has been building a culture of self-care. [42:50]
  • How individual offices are promoting self-care. [48:28]
  • The line between service and self-care. [53:14]




Jenny Andrews, Director of Training, Indigent Defense Improvement Division, Office of the State Public Defender, California




Be Sustained  

Body Keeps the Score 


Memorable Quotes:


“It is the client who suffers the most when public defenders are run ragged and into the ground.” (4:33, Hunter)


“As a public defender, most of us come into this work because we see the way that the system treats the most vulnerable people, and we wanna provide a high level of representation to them. And then we encounter all of these obstacles and things that block us and prevent us from being able to do that. And it's really, really taxing and demoralizing.” (18:14, Jenny)


“Having great self-care tools is like knowing how to change a tire, but you drive every day on a road that is covered in potholes. So you are constantly needing to change your tires.” (31:48, Hunter)


“If you are not letting your people take care of yourself, the mission will fall apart. They will not perform.” (53:39, Hunter)


“I think that if we are taking care of ourselves and each other, we are better equipped to take care of the people that we represent.” (58:45, Jenny)


“We have to break out of this idea that caging people fixes social problems.” (1:02:02, Jenny)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Aug 24, 2022
39: The Power of Public Advocacy in Alameda County Public Defense with Brendon Woods

This Week, Hunter spoke with the awesome and powerful, Brendon Woods. As Chief Public Defender in Alameda County, Brendon is one of the loudest and strongest advocates for criminal justice reform in the entire country.

On this episode, Brendon and Hunter discuss how Brendon was able to cultivate the culture both in and out of his office that enabled wide sweeping success at crafting meaningful reforms. From his work in the state house to his work in the Oakland community, Brendon has seen success after success because of his ability to show the local community the essential role that Public Defense places in community health. From his voter registration program to his high school, his team has helped to demonstrate for all the extent to what Public Defense could be.

Brendon’s vision and drive to implement a truly holistic model of public defense is one that all public defenders should strive to meet.

Key Topics and Takeaways:

Brendon’s path to becoming a Chief Defender [11:12]

Developing a Positive Reputation in Alameda County [13:44]

VOICE and LYRIC Programs [15:15]

Immigration Representation Work [21:00]

How to Keep Getting Resources to Grow [25:00]

Public Defender Funding Disparities [27:00]

Battle with The Alameda DA’s [31:30]

The Recall of Chesa Boudin and the Role of DAs [37:50]

Policy Victories in the State [46:10]

Pushback To Policy Reform [51:50]

Discussion on California Public Defense [57:00]


Brendon Woods, Chief Public Defender, Alameda County, California


Alameda Public Defender Office

Establishing Immigration Representation

 Partners For Justice 

V.O.I.C.E Program

 L.Y.R.I.C Program

SB310 – which allows people with felony convictions to serve on juriesBrendon published an op-ed about this bill.

AB3070 – which made it more difficult for racist prosecutors to kick black people off juries. He also wrote an op-ed on this.

Battles with the DA


Contact Hunter Parnell:




Aug 19, 2022
38: Can the Michigan Model Pave the Way for Public Defense? with Kristen Staley

38: Michigan Public Defense w/ Kristen Staley


Ready for a refreshing dose of positivity?


In this episode, Hunter speaks with Kristen Staley, the Executive Director of the Michigan Indigent Defense.


Kristen maps out the complexities of a committee system, sharing the unique challenges and benefits that having individual offices hold. It turns out that the quality of services varies from county to county.


She’ll also explain how she is working in the legislature to transform the future of Michigan public defense. Kristen has many goals for the state that she lays out in this episode. 


Overall, Kristen conveys an attitude of hope and excitement for the future. She is certain that Michigan indigent defense will change for the better. 


Key Topics and Takeaways:

  • Kristen’s background and how she got into Michigan public defense. [10:53]
  • Handling cases of individuals 18-25. [15:26]
  • The Michigan Model of public defense. [24:08]
  • Michigan’s indigency standards. [36:17]
  • The commission and state’s response to the Sixth Amendment Center reports. [39:39]
  • How Kristen works with the legislature. [44:35]
  • The difference between being an advocate and a policy maker. [48:39]
  • Kristen’s goals for Michigan indigent defense. [59:43]


Kristen Staley, Executive Director Michigan Indigent Defense Commission


Michigan Indigent Defense Commission 

Race to the Bottom NLADA Report 

2018 Wayne County Report 

2019 Wayne County Report 

Prof Eve Primus Observations on Michigan Court Rooms 

Memorable Quotes:

“Change can happen and will happen if you keep on pushing.” (10:23, Hunter)

“18 is not a magic number, that there is science and there is research and youth are not adults.” (17:07, Kristen)

“The criminal justice system, just like any other type of system, is run by humans. Right? And we all have these biases, no matter what it is, but we have to be able to understand and recognize them.” (18:21, Kristen)

“I think that having such a large group of stakeholders beyond the commission helps ensure that we're actually hearing all the voices and makes sure that we're not forgetting things.” (35:15, Kristen)

“I think there's a lot of very good activists who push these types of things forward, but not every great activist is also a great policy person. I think that's very different. And not every great policy person is a great activist.” (51:47, Hunter)

“Public defenders care about this work. At the end of the day they are advocates.” (1:04:35, Kristen)

Contact Hunter Parnell:


Aug 17, 2022
37: How to Train the Next Generation of Public Defense Leaders with Jeff Sherr and Heather Hall

This week, Hunter spoke with Jeff Sherr and Heather Hall of the National Association of Public Defense to discuss the importance of training the next generation of Public Defense Leaders.

Over their careers, Jeff and Heather have seen first hand the transformation in the types of people drawn to Public Defense. This evolution from warriors in the court room to advocates in the policy realm has only be possible thanks to the development of new training methods that focus on the communication skills of Public Defender leaders, but this training must extend to more than just Public Defenders.

As an organization that caters to all members of a Public Defense team, the NAPD is essential to ensuring every member of an office is equipped with the tools to provide holistic representation to every client!

Key Topics and Takeaways:

Crafting Training Programs/Development of Training Goals [12:45]

Challenges and Opportunities in Bringing together different jobs in Public Defense [16:05]

Brining Different Types of Public Defenders Together [20:21]

Different Public Defender Motivations [24:00]

Different Training for Different Kinds of Advocacy [33:50]

The Challenges of Leadership [42:00]

Creating Communication Models that Work in Different Places [44:08]

How do You Convince a Community Trust Public Defense Again [50:40]


Jeff Sherr, Director of Training, National Association of Public Defense

Heather Hall, Engagement Director, National Association of Public Defense




National Association of Public Defense


Contact Hunter Parnell:



Aug 12, 2022
36: Kentucky PD and The National Association of Public Defense with Ernie Lewis

Kentucky is known to have a strong and well-structured public defender system, but it is held back by poor funding and an unresponsive legislative body.


This week, Hunter speaks with Ernie Lewis, the former Public Advocate of Kentucky and former Executive Director of the National Association for Public Defense (NAPD).


They discuss Ernie’s work in public defense reform and the best ways to get needed changes. Ernie attempts to answer the ultimate question—what does it take to transform the system so it’s responsive to the needs of those in it? 


Instrumental in the formation of the NAPD, he’ll explain how it began and why the work of this organization is so important. He’ll also explore how to balance the needs of public defenders with the needs of the individuals going through the system.


Ernie brings to the show a refreshing, optimistic look at the public defense system and its future. 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Ernie’s background in public defense and how he got started. [4:50]
  • Why Ernie wanted to work in poverty law. [8:49]
  • Ernie’s three goals as public advocate. [15:23]
  • Fines and fees. [17:38]
  • Eligibility. [21:08]
  • Ernie’s work at the NAPD. [37:32]
  • Caseloads. [48:40]
  • Ethics in the legal profession. [52:14]



Ernie Lewis, Former Public Advocate of Kentucky, Former Executive Director of the NAPD


Final Report of the Blue Ribbon Group

Public Advocacy Commission Justice Jeopardized Final Report


NAPD Principles 

Department of Public Advocacy 

Department of Public Advocacy FY19 Annual Report 

Indigency Determination Statute

KY Rev Stat § 31.211 (2021)


Memorable Quotes:


“I then wanted to go to law school and represent poor people to give justice to poor people.” (10:35, Ernie)


“Since 1998, we were able to reduce reliance upon fines and fees considerably. So that by the time I left, our budget was about 40 million and only about 3 million of that 40 million came from fines and fees.” (17:45, Ernie)


“This is a state obligation to provide enough resources so that each person charged with a crime who is eligible for a public defender, gets a well-trained, qualified attorney with support staff.” (20:49, Ernie)


“Probably the biggest problem in indigent defense is the vast gap between representation for felonies and representation for misdemeanors, especially in lower level courts.” (28:11, Hunter)


“Indigent defense has always been one of the last priorities of government.” (43:58, Ernie)


“My generation of public defenders has participated in mass incarceration. We have witnessed just since 1970, the destruction of people, families, neighborhoods, and we've become now the place with the highest percentages of incarceration in the world.” (55:38, Ernie)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Aug 10, 2022
35: Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Student Debt with Jane Fox and Kyle Morris

    This week, Hunter sat down with Jane Fox and Kyle Morris to discuss one of the pressing issues facing millions of Americans: Student Loans.


    As of today, there is roughly $1.75 trillion in student loans that remain outstanding. For many, these debts will carry with them until they hit retirement age. This is a debt that cannot be discharged via bankruptcy and the high interest rates make it extremely difficult for those in low paying public service jobs to ever pay off the principle. That is where Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) comes into play.


While it is far from a perfect program, PSLF has helped thousands of people serving the public. After 10 years of service and 10 years of payments, certain loans can be completely forgiven. Yet, the program, as many government programs are, is extremely cumbersome to navigate. Recognizing these difficulties and wanting to help, Jane and Kyle offer their expertise to guide people through the PSLF process to lift the burden of debt off of their shoulders!


Key Topics and Takeaways:

How much Debt Kyle and Jane Had [15:00]

History of PSLF [24:00]

The Problems with Loan Servicers [28:00]

Specific Requirements for PSLF [32:00]

Hurdles to PSLF [34:110]

Future of PSLF and the Student Loan Industry [41:00]

PSLF Is For More than Just Attorneys [47:38]

The Politics of Student Loan Forgiveness [59:00]




Jane Fox, Staff Attorney, New York Legal Aid Society

Kyle Morris, Public Defender, Nashville Public Defender Office




Memorable Quotes:

“Jane and I often joke that talking to servicers is like our clients talking to the Police. It’s usually not a good idea without an attorney present” – Kyle [28:45]



Contact Kyle:

Contact Jane:

For Help with PSLF Call DOE Ombudsman


Public Service Loan Forgiveness



Contact Hunter Parnell:





Aug 05, 2022
34: The History of Public Defense with Sara Mayuex

Sara Mayeux is a law professor at Vanderbilt University and the author of the book Free Justice, A History of the Public Defender in 20th Century America. 


Sara discusses the progressive era, the 1950s and the development of public defense of modern America, and the supreme court's role throughout it all. 


The development of public defense has largely been dictated by the growth of the nation through urbanization, industrialization, and economic inequality. Sara and Hunter talk through how culture impacted the development of law as it stands today. This episode lays a foundational understanding of how our public defense came to be what it is today. A must-listen!


Key Topics and Takeaways:

  • The 3 topics of Sara’s book: Free Justice [3:02]
  • How quickly political concepts can switch their meaning and understanding based on the cultural context that people are raised in. [4:04]
  • Background and experience of Sara Mayeux [6:10]
  • The era of mass incarceration [7:03]
  • What the progressive era looked like, and how this culture impacted the criminal courts and criminal system. [12:35]
  • Defense law perspective versus the state [22:51]
  • The disparity between east coast and west coast public defenders in the 1950s. [31:20]
  • The impact of the cold war on public defense. [37:40]
  • The OJ Trial and people getting off due to technicalities in the legal system. [49:58]
  • The American Bar Association’s approach [52:00]



Sara Mayuex, Professor of Law and History, Vanderbilt University



Memorable Quotes:


“There's this broader cultural sense in which we think of American law as adversarial. Meaning that, especially in a criminal case, the defendant is up against the state and that's his adversary or enemy. And so of course, the defense lawyer and the prosecutor are going to see themselves as doing battle. And they're not going to see themselves as having any kind of shared goal or shared mission.” - Sara Mayeux


“The dominant standard understanding of what happens with respect to public policy debates during the Cold War is that anything that looks even remotely too much like communism or socialism is basically written out of the realm of possibility for American policymakers.” - Sara Mayeux



Get Sara Mayeux’s Book:

Free Justice: A History of the Public Defender in 20th Century America



Contact Hunter Parnell:


Aug 03, 2022
33: How Could Low Attorney Pay Cripple Massachusetts Public Defense w/Anthony Benedetti

The Massachusetts public defense system presents arguably the best example of how contract public defense could work, largely in part to today’s guest—Anthony Benedetti, Chief Public Defender of Massachusetts. 


Their system is made up of approximately 80% contract attorneys, and in this episode, Anthony walks us through how he helps to oversee these attorneys and ensures a quality level of representation for all.


He’ll also break down the complicated funding of the system, and why $60 per hour just doesn’t cut it. 


Anthony is working hard to create a future where more layers will want to go into public defense and is optimistic that the Massachusetts indigent defense system will continue to improve!


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Who Anthony is and what he does. [9:29]
  • What Massachusetts public defense looks like and how it took its form. [13:25]
  • Legislation advocacy done by Anthony’s office. [18:24]
  • Training and performance standards for Massachusetts contract attorneys. [20:17]
  • Why the Massachusetts pay rates aren’t enough. [31:00]
  • Justifying the high attorney standards with the lack of pay. [41:37]
  • How attorney shortages have affected Massachusetts. [49:37]
  • Defining what a crime is. [1:05:50]




Anthony Benedetti, Chief Counsel, Committee for Public Counsel Services




CPCS Webpage


@CPCSnews Twitter 


2004 Report 


Assigned Counsel Manual 


Mass Bar Report on Attorney Pay 


Memorable Quotes:


“It's one thing in theory to talk about public defender pay and how much people make and, and all these things. But at the end of the day, it's the working-class Americans who were represented by these people who pay the price.” (6:08, Hunter)


“I like to tell people that there are just so many injustices on a daily basis, that it is pretty easy to get re-pissed off and realize that you have to keep up the fight each and every day on behalf of our clients.” (12:40, Hunter)


“I think it's, there are a whole range of reasons why people choose to do this work, but at the end of the day, when they choose to do this work, they have to do it in a certain way.” (23:05, Anthony)


“It is really hard for us to get people out of law school who want to do this full-time or close to full-time.” (42:56, Anthony)


“The longer that you go without counsel, the more you are disadvantaged being able to present a defense.” (51:32, Anthony)


“I'm pretty confident that things are going to get better in Massachusetts.” (1:08:35, Anthony)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Jul 27, 2022
32: Why Nevada Public Defense Failed and the Plan to Build it Back w/Franny Forsman

Franny Forsman has been working in Nevada indigent defense for several decades, and today she brings her impressive breadth of experience to the show! 


Franny is a former Post Conviction Indigent Defense Counsel in Nevada who has worked long and hard to improve the system.


Today, she speaks with us about how the ACLU lawsuit has brought drastic changes to the state of Nevada and why there are still so many weaknesses. 


She’ll explain how the Nevada public defense system handles the massive amount of rural coverage and share her dream for the future of the state. 


Franny will reassure you that all together, Nevada’s public defense system is heading in the right direction! 


Key Topics and Takeaways:

  • A history lesson on Nevada public defense. [2:36]
  • Franny’s background and role in Nevada public defense. [12:49]
  • What Franny took away from her time as a social worker. [14:33]
  • The major pushback from the legislature around funding. [20:18]
  • Pleading guilty. [35:16]
  • What has changed since the ACLU lawsuit. [40:17]
  • Why the new system will be different. [58:32]
  • How rural counties are handled. [59:17]



Franny Forsman, Former Post Conviction Indigent Defense Counsel in Nevada


ACLU Law Suit

State of Nevada v. Second Judicial District Court. 453 P2d 421. at 424 (Nevada 1969) 

6AC Report Nevada

NLADA Report Clark County 

DIDS Website


Memorable Quotes:

“It's David Carroll who said in his interview, a radical way to fix the system is to simply look at how many people are not actually getting attorneys. Look at how many cases are actually being carried. Look at how little work is being done in these cases.” (6:51, Hunter)


“There was never a consequence to the state to underfund the system.” (20:41, Franny)


“It's the state's responsibility to make sure that this gets right. It's the enforcement of all of the laws, including the sixth amendment that the state is responsible for.” (34:07, Franny)


“Wherever you live, find the nearest courtroom. Odds are if you walked in there and you see a public defender working and you asked them how many cases do you take a year, more likely than not, they are going to have absolutely no idea.” (53:56, Hunter)


“My feeling is that we will always have to have contract lawyers because of conflicts of interest.” (1:01:55, Franny)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Jul 20, 2022
31: The Wrongful Conviction of Cyrus Wilson with Cyrus Wilson and Dawn Deaner

On the night of September 15, 1992, in the Nashville Tennessee area, teenager Christopher Luckett was shot and killed.


Two days later, another teenager Cyrus Wilson was arrested for the crime. Even though there was only circumstantial evidence and many witnesses later admitted they were coerced into lying, Cyrus was found guilty and spent over 20 years in prison.


Today, he is 48 years old and still fighting for his innocence while on parole.


In this episode, Cyrus tells his story and how he is working to get the verdict overturned. Dawn Deaner, Former Public Defender in Nashville and Executive Director of the Choosing Justice Initiative joins him to add her expert perspective. 


The fact is, thousands of innocent people are sitting in jail right now, powerless and without the resources they need. 


The question is, how can we get the system to listen and take action? 


Key Topics and Takeaways:

  • A quick summary of the case. [0:18]
  • Dawn talks about her public defense background. [16:58]
  • Why Cyrus originally waived his right to an attorney and what his later attorney interactions looked like. [26:16]
  • The appeals process. [45:20]
  • Where accountability should be put in place. [52:13]
  • Reasons attorneys and judges become complacent. [1:06:16]
  • Lawyers and judges need to understand the power they have. [1:17:29]
  • Cyrus’s life on parole. [1:22:45]
  • How Cyrus is still trying to prove his innocence. [1:29:34]
  • Two things Cyrus wants people to understand. [1:36:40]



Cyrus Wilson 

Dawn Deaner, Former Public Defender in Nashville, Founder and Executive Director of the Choosing Justice Initiative



Choosing Justice Initiative

Contact Cyrus Wilson

Read about Cyrus' Case

The Trials of Cyrus Wilson

Cyrus Wilson Granted Parole, Set to Be Released 


Memorable Quotes:

“Once the police hone in on their guy, it can be difficult to get them off that gut intuition that police are very often instructed to follow.” (1:53, Hunter)


“If we continue to believe that the only way victims can be made whole is by somebody going to jail, then we are gonna continue to end up in situations like this, where, who cares who goes to jail as long as somebody did.” (12:48, Hunter)


“I don't necessarily know that there were more problems in public defense 30 years ago than there are today. I think that things have been bad and they've been bad a very long time.” (31:26, Dawn)


“You can't give someone like 50 cases and understand that and think that they're realistically going to investigate cases appropriately.” (51:32, Cyrus)


“We need to recognize that lawyers and judges in positions of power perpetuate this system that oppresses people.” (53:09, Dawn)


“I've never committed a crime and I could be continually detained and incarcerated for something that I did not do that I'm still held accountable for right now in this moment. No matter what kind of life I create, it could be taken away at the drop of a hat simply because this situation has never been totally corrected.” (1:24:02, Cyrus)


“Innocent people and people who are not necessarily innocent should be treated justly and fairly without bias.” (1:37:29, Cyrus)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Jul 13, 2022
30: How Tennessee Fails to Protect Children Accused of Crimes w/Mark Stephens

In this episode, I speak with Mark Stephens, the former chief public defender of Knoxville Tennessee.

Tennessee public defense has been stuck in neutral, if not reverse for a long time. In fact, almost everything was established in the 90’s and hasn’t changed much since.


Rutherford county incarcerated approximately 48% of children referred to juvenile court in 2014, and the statewide average for juvenile incarceration is 5%. Today, we talk about two alarming reports that have been released discussing the representation of juvenile offenders in the state.


In Tennessee, public defenders are elected to 4 and 8-year terms. Mark also highlights how this unique system affects the levels of representation and the bottom line. 


Overall, Mark leaves us with his ideas for a better system and the hope that the Tennessee public defense system will change for good.



Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Mark’s position in Tennessee public defense and how he got there. [6:28]
  • Elected public defenders. [10:48]
  • Public defender workloads and caseloads. [15:16]
  • One of the biggest issues facing Tennessee public defense today. [20:10]
  • Community outreach. [26:29]
  • Holistic representation and public defense. [37:19]
  • The average people going through the Tennessee indigent system. [41:06]
  • Resources at a county level. [46:03]



Mark Stephens, Former Chief Defender of Knoxville Public Defense




ProPublica Report

1999 Spangenberg Group Report 

Shelby County Juvenile System Report 

Knoxville Public Defender

Nashville Public Defender



Memorable Quotes:


“Children, for the most part, we have an opportunity to rehabilitate them.” (3:23, Hunter)


“Public defenders are paid the same that assistant district attorneys and district attorneys are paid, which is the way I think it ought to be.” (14:52, Mark)


“People generally don't care about the adults that are in the criminal justice system, because we've got this idea that they're all bad people and that they're all guilty.” (25:59, Mark)


“This state of crisis or chaos that a criminal charge brings in a person's life is also an opportunity for that person and that public defender to bring about change.” (38:12, Mark)


“I think the legislature has been shortsighted in terms of fully understanding the potential within the public defender office.” (47:32, Mark)


“People would disagree with me, but I think every aspect of the system, as I know it ought to be scrapped and redesigned.” (58:30, Mark)



Contact Hunter Parnell:


Jul 06, 2022
29: The Role a Judge can Play in Reforming Public Defense w/Tom Boyd

Today, you’ll hear about public defense from the judge’s point of view. Tom Boyd is a former Michigan District Court Judge who currently works in the court administration office. 

At one point one of the weakest systems in the United States, his work to improve the indigent system has driven forward the future of Michigan public defense and has left a positive precedent for other states.


The 6th amendment is the ultimate protection against government power that is designed to keep people safe from a government acting out of control.


Many people believe that judges should be held accountable for protecting the constitution, so bettering the public defense system should be more of a priority. 

Sharing his unique perspective, your mindset around public defense will be challenged and you’ll see that a lot more than you think goes into fair representation for all. 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Tom’s background and his role in the Michigan indigent system. [6:01]
  • A judge’s function in the Michigan courtroom. [10:21]
  • Some history on the Michigan indigent defense system. [16:01]
  • What gets in the way of constitutionally adequate representation. [21:21]
  • Prosecutors and public defense. [28:03]
  • Ending the plea deal epidemic. [34:57]
  • Tom’s experience being on both sides of the bench. [45:42]
  • Where Tom wants Michigan public defense to go. [49:39]
  • Holding prosecutors accountable. [54:00]




Tom Boyd, Former Michigan District Court Judge, Michigan State Court Administrator




Michigan Indigent Defense Commission


NLADA Report “Race to the Bottom”


Memorable Quotes:


“I want to talk to more than just public defenders. I want to talk to all range of people who are involved in the criminal justice system, because part of reform is going to require that all of the people in the system work together.” (2:07, Hunter)


“When you're the judge at the end of the conversation you win.” (13:35, Tom)


“If we can be crass about it, the judiciary is a service industry.” (22:05, Tom)


“I think that the Michigan indigent defense commission, which is still in its infancy, you know, six years, seven years, something like that. Has established itself as reliable and dedicated to advancement and done a good enough job that there are very few judges who fought the relinquishment of control.” (25:56, Tom)


“There are bad actors in the legal system who take advantage of individuals and they should be found, rooted out, and gotten out of the system.” (48:29, Hunter)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Jun 29, 2022
28: Public Defense Commissions with David Kaplan and Sara Hildebrand

Today, I speak with David Kaplan and Sara Hildebrand, two former Colorado public defenders and current members of the Aurora Public Defender Commission.


The three of us dive deep into Public Defense Commissions, how they function, and the important work they do in advocating for public defenders. 


The commission side of public defense offers a unique insight into how policy is made and the types of negotiations that need to be made. The fact is, there’s more that goes into it than you might think!


If you are a public defender who wants to start a commission or someone who’s not an attorney and wants to get involved, this is the perfect episode for you!


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Sara and David’s background. [5:27]
  • Sara’s challenges of being in a remote area. [11:01]
  • The progression of David’s career. [14:16]
  • Sara and David’s work in public policy. [20:10]
  • How the commission works with policymakers. [29:44]
  • Why commissions are important. [33:10]
  • Building institutional support. [37:38]
  • Staying on the peoples’ side. [50:31]




David Kaplan, Former Colorado State Public Defender and Aurora Public Defender Commission Member


Sara Hildebrand former Public Defender in Durango/Arpahoe County and Aurora Public Defender Commission Member




Aurora Public Defender Commission


Memorable Quotes:


“You don't have to be a lawyer to make these changes, to be passionate about reform and taking efforts to change your community. That's a key goal. That's a key theme of this show is that you do not have to be an attorney to understand this and to make changes.” (2:27, Hunter)


“I think those of us who ended up being public defenders never lose the spirit of being a public defender.” (9:55, David)


“When you do policy work, you have to have a broader understanding. There has to be, I believe a greater amount of compromise.” (24:32, David)


“Our obligation as defenders, whether as a state defender or a municipal defender or a federal defender, is to zealously advocate for our clients. And like David was saying, that means that our clients should feel like they have the best lawyer in the courtroom.” (28:21, Sara)


“We represent the people and the community, right? And so in a democratic environment, that should mean something.” (40:01, Sara)


“I think a key part of our role is to humanize people that are accused in a system that's just expert at dehumanizing people.” (56:27, Sara)

Jun 22, 2022
27: The Innocence of Barry Jones and the Impacts of Shinn vs Ramirez with Sylvia Lett and Andrew Sowards

In 1994, Barry Jones was arrested for the rape and murder of his girlfriend's four-year-old daughter. Even though his innocence is obvious to all who would look, he sits on Arizona's death row, waiting to be executed for a crime he did not commit.


Sylvia Lett and Andrew Sowards are the former federal public defender and Investigator who worked on the case and join us for this special two-hour episode to give all the details.


They walk us through this horribly unjust trial and explain how the criminal justice system set Barry up for failure from the start. 


From junk science to bad witnesses, nothing about this trial was fair. To make it worse, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed that actual proof of innocence is not enough to overturn an execution.


Syliva and Andrew’s account of this story will change the entire way you view the criminal justice system.


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Sylvia and Andrew’s background and how they got Barry’s case. [10:13]
  • The police perspective. [21:37]
  • The lack of story in this case. [29:08]
  • The evidence provided. [30:29]
  • Junk science within the trial. [40:50]
  • Barry’s timeline on the day of the crime. [57:29]
  • How to bring an innocence claim into federal court. [1:14:31]
  • Dr. Howard’s testimony. [1:24:43]
  • What finality is and why it’s there. [1:42:45]
  • The conviction integrity unit. [1:49:27]




Sylvia Lett, Professor of Law at the University of Arizona and Former Federal Public Defender 

Andrew Sowards, Former Federal Public Defender Investigator




The Intercept Story of Barry Jones 

Shinn vs Ramirez 

Ryan vs Martinez 

Herrera vs Collins 

Ring vs Arizona 

Arizona Capital Representation Project 

Arizona Innocence Project 

After Speaking with Barry, Sylvia informed me that he welcomed letters from those with “authentic interest in the injustices in his case”. He would welcome correspondence to speak about his case. While he says he has no time for sympathy, I can only imagine showing him that there are people who care, who see the injustice done to him, and who are fighting to lift up his story will help him maintain his fighting spirit. Please do not write to him simply for the novelty of writing to someone on death row and please mark all mail with "NON-LEGAL MAIL" His address is: Barry Lee Jones, ADOC #114690 ASPC Florence Browning Unit P.O. Box 8200 Florence, AZ 85132


Memorable Quotes:


“A just system is not just one that protects the innocent. It also protects everybody involved in it because that is a merciful system.” (8:10, Hunter)


“Barry's case is kind of the poster case of failures all around, in many ways.” (31:54, Sylvia)


“So often we think justice is solving the crime, but justice also involves making sure that we are doing right by the accused.” (47:47, Hunter)


“If you don't know the person, if you don't live with them, don't be judging their emotion, their emotional response, because every single person is different.” (51:36, Andrew)


“If you are concerned or worried about state power and the threat of the state, I promise you that it is the work of federal public defenders, federal investigators, and public defenders around the country who will do more to protect you from the power of the state than a gun ever will.” (1:48:49, Hunter)



Contact Hunter Parnell:


Jun 17, 2022
26: Junk Science and the Makings of a Wrongful Conviction with Chris Fabricant

Like most people, shows like CSI, Law and Order, or even Dexter, may have you convinced that the science used to convict people is airtight. Everything from bite marks, blood spatter, and even finger prints, must be scientifically valid...right? 


What if I told you, almost all of it is predicated on junk science and the failings of the legal system to catch it? Today’s guest is on the show to highlight this and the infrastructure that has been created to support wrongful convictions. 


Chris Fabricant is the Director of Strategic Litigation at the Innocence Project and the author of Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System.


In this episode, we will go over some of the findings in Chris' book that help us to understand how the legal system allowed bad science to become such a powerful tool to wrongfully convict thousands of Americans.


Giving his solutions to the junk science problem, Chris will leave you with the hope that it will one day be no more. 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Hunter’s definition of a wrongful conviction. [6:25]
  • How junk science got into the criminal system. [13:37]
  • The issue with pattern matching. [23:09]
  • Society’s strong desire to punish. [31:12]
  • How the Supreme Court has played a role in wrongful convictions and mass incarceration. [37:06]
  • The principle of finality. [38:03]
  • Denialism around actual innocence. [47:17]
  • Promoting scientific literacy among lawyers. [1:06:25]




Chris Fabricant, Director of Strategic Litigation, Innocence Project




2009 National Academy of Sciences Report 

2016 PCAST Forensic Science Report 

Buy Chris’s Book Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System 


Memorable Quotes:


“I don't think people actually want to live in the type of society that our legal principles say we should be living in.” (4:50, Hunter)


“What we know about the law as compared to science is that the law is stable.” (22:17, Chris)


“In reality, crime usually happens. Police get together, form their suspect. And then, a lot of the analysis of the evidence is then with that suspect in mind.” (27:39, Hunter)


“Science should always be objective, it should be separated from the adversarial process.” (29:40, Chris)


“There’s widespread scientific illiteracy in the bar.” [50:59, Chris)


“Once you're accused unless you can afford really, really good counsel, you're kind of fucked.” (59:56, Hunter)


Contact Hunter Parnell:



Jun 15, 2022
25: The Need for Mercy in the Kentucky Legal System w/Ed Monahan

In 1976, Ed Monahan was hired as a Kentucky assistant public defender. He would eventually go on to be the state’s Public Advocate for an impressive 9 years.


Although he no longer fills that position, today Ed comes on Public Defenseless to talk about the impactful work he did in that role and the advocacy he continues to do today. 


He’ll also give you a good overview of the public defense system in Kentucky. While the state has a good foundation, it still desperately lacks funding. 


In a state that has one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation, Ed Monahan is turning around the system for the better. 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Ed’s background and how he got to where he is today. [9:57]
  • The evolution of Kentucky public defense. [12:01]
  • Alternative sentencing. [26:36]
  • Ed explains Marsy’s Law. [38:04]
  • Why many people don’t believe in “innocent until proven guilty.” [42:09]
  • The greatest public defense victories in Kentucky. [45:23]
  • The NAPD standard that gets the least attention and the most important one. [52:22]
  • The importance of having a private place for legal communication. [56:58]




Ed Monahan, Former Public Advocate for the Commonwealth Kentucky, Former Executive Director of the National Association of Public Defenders Fund for Justice, Active Contributor to National Association of Public Defenders' Policy




FY19 Kentucky Department of the Public Advocate Annual Report

Ed Monahan OpEd on Bad Statistics Driving Policy

Ed Monahan & Nina Ginsberg on Marsy's Law

Farewell Address from Ed Monahan

NAPD Policy on Active Supervision

NAPD Policy on Staffing

NAPD Policy on Independence

NAPD Policy on Proper Professional Space


Memorable Quotes:


“I came on without any training. I was just handed cases. And so I knew there was a better way.” (17:54, Ed)


“We have good training culture of active supervision, but what Kentucky has not had is adequate funding through all these years.” (20:25, Ed)


“There still are many public policy leaders in Kentucky who when faced with those facts of reduced crime rates still have this desire to incarcerate more people for longer periods of time. It's really a financially imprudent and counterproductive way for Kentucky to use its limited resources.” (28:27, Ed)


“I really believe as public defender leaders, we have to do a better job of communicating the public value of public defense.” (34:54, Ed)


“I do public defender work out of my deep held beliefs that poor people deserve to have the best representation that money could buy.” (38:51, Ed)


“Having realistic hope in what's possible in the future is the motivation to continue to apply the talents and skills any of us have to work for a better criminal justice system.” (47:50, Ed)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Jun 08, 2022
24: How the Media Poisons Criminal Justice Discourse with Scott Hechinger

Scott Hechinger is the founder and executive director of Zealous. Through his work, he is fighting hard to challenge injustice through the media and topple the imbalance of power within the criminal justice system. 


As a former public defender in the Bronx system, he comes on today’s episode to talk all about New York Public Defense and his work to make it fairer for all. He explains how he collaborates with the media to change the narrative around public defense and break long-held stigmas. He also shares how he encourages all members of the public defense system to come together for positive change. 


Scott is an impressive example of one individual who is changing the public defense system for good! 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Who Scott is and his role in public defense. [8:53]
  • How public defense in New York has changed. [11:17]
  • Why fear hurts the public defense system. [18:54]
  • What people are getting wrong about bail reform. [27:49]
  • Reasons the media is biased. [34:07]
  • Why police and prosecutors often lie to the media. [40:51]
  • Defining justice. [51:48]
  • Scott’s goals moving forward. [57:33]




Prince George County Court Watchers

Follow Scott on Twitter


Memorable Quotes:


“When we see public defenders in the news, it's often saying no comment, we kind of model that behavior and assume that we're not supposed to talk.” (16:24, Scott)


“If we actually cared about public health and safety, we wouldn't be investing billions into costly and cruel and failed solutions.” (19:19, Scott)


“Here's what people need to know: the reality is that bail reform is consistent with greater public safety.” (33:04, Scott)


“I think people just need to realize that, to tell a whole story. You need every aspect of that story. You can't just listen to the same side because they're going to have the same biases.” (41:35, Hunter)


“I know that when folks are locked up and pushed away, not forced to confront the pain that they caused, it's actually not holding folks accountable. It’s easier to put it out of sight out of mind”. (56:35, Scott)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Jun 01, 2022
23: Gideon's Promise and Public Defense Culture with Jon Rapping
Jon Rapping is a former public defender dedicated to changing the system and advocating for true equality. 


The founder of Gideon’s Promise, this nonprofit organization is on a mission to build a movement of public defenders that can drive transformative change within the criminal legal system.


In this episode, Jon talks about the challenges of shaping the culture of a public defender office to one that is capable of providing client centered public defense.


He explains why so many young public defenders come into this field passionate and ready to drive change, but end up burning out and going with the status quo. 


By mentoring these lawyers and building a community to support them, public defenders receive strategies to close the gap between themselves and their clients. 


The criminal justice and public defense systems might be dysfunctional, but this episode will give you hope that positive change is on the horizon. 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Who Jon is and what he does at Gideon’s Promise. [0:21]
  • Why Washington DC has such a strong public defense system. [2:55]
  • The reasons that Americans have embraced the tough-on-crime movement. [12:39]
  • Overcoming discrimination. [16:29]
  • The power of storytelling. [27:11]
  • Fixing law schools. [31:36]
  • What client-centered really means. [43:58]
  • Addiction and mental health issues. [46:56]




Jon Rapping, Executive Director/Co-Founder of Gideon's Promise




Gideon’s Promise

Gideon’s Promise Podcast




Memorable Quotes:


“Systems that lack funding and lack independence very quickly develop a culture where public defenders are pushed to go along with the status quo to please judges and value efficiency over representing clients and valuing justice.” (4:45, Jon)


“No longer do we really believe in a criminal legal system like the founders envisioned. It is a system for perpetuating control of people.” (10:45, Jon)


“The public is fed a narrative that says marginalized communities, black and brown communities, are dangerous, they're a threat.” (13:19, Jon)


“Law schools are failing at the responsibility of producing lawyers who understand what justice is.” (27:53, Jon)


“Culture is a function of our values.” (38:44, Jon)


Contact Hunter Parnell:



May 25, 2022
22: How Automation Can Help Public Defense with Rocky Ramirez and Paul Chambers
In a profession steeped in tradition, technological advances can come slowly to the legal world. Given the strapped for cash nature of Public Defense, it is essential that PDs break from the tech aversion prevalant in the legal world.

That's where my guests for today's show come into play. Rocky Ramirez, Managed Assigned Counsel in Bexar County, Texas, and Paul Chambers, Public Defender at the Far West Texas Office, are on a mission to modernize the system. 

Public defenders almost notoriously never have enough time. But when Rocky and Paul discovered automation, they found a way to speed up the system while giving public defenders time to do more things aimed at client focused representation.

In this episode, Rocky and Paul talk about how they’ve implemented automation within the Texas indigent system and the positive effects it’s had for all parties involved. 

Their passion for creating a system that better helps their clients in cost effective ways could truly revolutionize the way many offices are doing buisness!

Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Where Rocky and Paul fit into the Texas public defense system. [7:28]
  • What public defenders don’t have time to do. [16:36]
  • How they implemented automation into their offices. [22:43]
  • What could go wrong with computer automation. [34:42]
  • Assigned council contract counsel and automation. [39:32]
  • The evolution of automation. [48:20]
  • Pushbacks to automation. [54:07]




Rocky Ramirez, Managed Assigned Counsel, Legal Technology Resource Attorney, Bexar County Texas


Paul Chambers, Public Defender Far West Texas Office




Far West Texas Regional Public Defender


Memorable Quotes:


“I think that's a very positive thing for people to hear criminal defense attorneys have souls.” (10:16, Hunter)


“I kind of started focusing my time on learning these domains, learning about data science, learning about process automation, robotic process automation, business, process automation, trying to kind of stamp my feet and say, hey, we gotta be paying attention to this. This is something that could really change the game.” (16:03, Paul)


“The things that we as attorneys need to be focused on is the thing that we have the least amount of time to do, which is why the system is exactly the way it is.” (19:24, Paul)


“You've got people doing things, these tedious processes that take hours, and they can be boiled down to a click of a button.” (26:45, Rocky)


“The future for public defenders, I think is pretty huge. I can see a world where as close to zero of repetitive data entry and non-legal work is happening on a case or in an office. And that means a lot.” (43:09, Paul)


“The point is you can't get somebody to create something for you. We're moving to a world where we create it for ourselves.” (49:49, Rocky)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


May 18, 2022
21: Public Defense Appellate Law and PD Commissions with Frances Brown

Ready to hear about a different type of law?

So far, we’ve spoken to many public defenders who have done work on the trial level, but today I talk to someone who can take you into the nuances of appellate law.

In this episode, I speak with Frances Brown: a former appellate public defender, former Chief Administrative Officer of the Colorado State Public Defender Office, and a current member of the Aurora Public Defender Commission.

Frances brings a wealth of knowledge with her about what really goes into appellate law and the unique types of arguments that can be made.

She is also a veteran of the legal industry, so she’ll take you through what she has seen around the growth of women in the legal profession. 

Lastly, Frances shares key insight into what goes into the policies and practices of the Public Defender Commissions. 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Frances’ career and how she got started. [0:36]
  • How appellate representations are different from trial work. [18:38]
  • The complexities of appeals. [27:41]
  • Greatest policy victories in Colorado. [31:21]
  • What Frances’ current role looks like. [45:24]
  • How Frances has moved forward public defense in Aurora. [50:15]
  • How Women’s rights have increased in the public defense system. [1:03:54]




Frances Brown, Former Chief Administrative Officer of Colorado State Public Defender Office, Current Member of the Aurora Public Defender Commission




Aurora Public Defender Office


Memorable Quotes:


“I love my job. And I always did. And I do feel very blessed for that.” (18:26, Frances)


“The main thing about appellate law is everything you do is based on the record.” (19:49, Frances)


“The biggest part of being a public defender is the ability to go to court.” (40:19, Frances)


“I felt very strongly for many, many years that the public defender system would benefit tremendously from having social workers.” (41:44, Frances)


“I am an expert in an area of law that nobody needs to be an expert in, which is conflict of interest in public defender offices.” (49:07, Frances)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


May 11, 2022
20: Representing Mothers in Tulsa, Oklahoma with Aisha McWeay

Aisha McWeay is a former public defender and the Executive Director of Still She Rises, the first holistic defense office in the country dedicated exclusively to the representation of mothers in both the criminal and civil legal systems.

Today's episode brings to light the unique challenges that mothers face as they navigate the complicated legal world they face in the greater Tulsa community. 

Still She Rises stands out as an organization that seeks to use the skills of a broad team of attorneys, social workers, client advocates, and community resources specialists to get the needs of each of their clients met. 

While Aisha and her team take this holistic approach to reach the best possible outcomes for their clients, Aisha and I discussed the many shortfalls that Public Defense in Oklahoma faces because of decades of underfunding. 

Of all the takeaways from this episode, Aisha I think best lays out just what holistic defense looks like in practice, and acts as an example to those that think progress cannot happen in a place like Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Note: This episode was recorded on March 17th 2022


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • How Aisha got into public defense and the role she is in now. [7:28]
  • The legal world’s perception of public defense. [14:50]
  • The unique needs of women who go through the legal system. [20:53]
  • What public defense looks like in Oklahoma. [25:48]
  • What a holistic defense model looks like. [39:11]
  • How Aisha helps her clients with children. [49:28]
  • The art of storytelling. [53:00]
  • Where Aisha wants public defense in Oklahoma to head. [58:37]




Aisha McWeay, Executive Director of Still She Rises




Still She Rises

Tulsa Race Massacre

George Kaiser Family Foundation

OK Criminal Justice Reform


Memorable Quotes:


“That got me to be so interested in interning with the public defender’s office, and quite frankly, I fell in love with the work. I fell in love with representing clients. I fell in love with trying to use my skills to help humanize and tell the client’s story.” (8:47, Aisha)


“As a whole, particularly in America, public interest-driven law is the minority.” (17:10), Aisha)


“There’s so many things that happen that aren’t criminal, that are impacting the lives that then get people to criminal.” (25:24, Hunter)


“When someone is arrested, they should be able to have some say in who is representing them.” (29:51, Aisha)


“An attorney, despite what some of them say is not always the smartest person in the room, in every single topic.” (44:49, Hunter)


“Ultimately the call on whether someone can or can't do a thing is not up to us as their attorney. It is up to us to certainly give them as much information as possible to make really honest and informed decisions.” (50:46, Aisha)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


May 04, 2022
19: How Pennsylvania's Failure to Fund Public Defense Hurts Everyone w/Keisha Hudson

In Philadelphia, a whopping 70% of people arrested are represented by public defenders.


In this episode, I speak with Keisha Hudson, the Chief Defender of the Philadelphia Defender Association.


She walks me through the ins and outs of the indigent defense system in Pennsylvania, and how she deals with the lack of funding and support from the legislature. 


Pennsylvania stands as one of the only states that provides 0 funding to Public Defenders at the trial level. This lack of funding often forces public defenders to fight the county governments for desperately needed funding. In our conversation, Keisha shares with us her fight for funding in Montgomery County.


Despite the lack of funding, Keisha will show us how she is able to lead the Philadelphia Defender Association to be renowned as one of the best offices in the state despite the lack of support. 


With her expertise and passion, Keisha was a fantastic guest to discuss the challenging cases Public Defenders can face and how failing to fund Public Defense rested at the heart of the Kids for Cash Scandal in Luzerne County.


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Keisha’s background and where she fits into the system. [0:32]
  • How public defenders are using strategic advocacy. [9:27]
  • Building relationships with media. [13:20]
  • The role of restorative justice. [19:33]
  • Why Philadelphia has such a strong public defense system. [41:45]
  • What’s going to bring change? [38:38]
  • Where Keisha wants public defense to go. [48:24]




Keisha Hudson, Chief Defender Philadelphia Defender Association




Forward Justice

Philly Defenders

Pennsylvania Committee on racial and Gender and Bias in the Justice System

Task Force and Advisory Committee on Services to Indigent Criminal Defendants

Cash for Kids Scandal

Lawsuit Against Luzerne County


Memorable Quotes:


“If you are looking to do public defense and you want to learn how to be an incredible trial lawyer, then come to Philadephia. We have earned and enjoyed a reputation for our zealous advocacy in and out of the courtroom.” (1:58, Keisha)


“We are appointed in every case where someone cannot afford counsel. And when you have an office that's not funded and resourced, it presents a significant constitutional challenge in meeting those requirements of zealous and effective advocacy.” (5:29, Keisha)


“You can find something redeeming about every human being.” (18:02, Keisha)


“I think if you balance the scales and if you have a well-funded, well-resourced public defender office who can push those issues and not fear political repercussions from county commissioners or from the bench, you are able to make a better impact.” (36:54, Keisha)


“If we truly prevent crime and lower crime rates and impact public safety, then we need to reinvest in solutions we know work and in a robust social safety net.” (47:44, Keisha)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Apr 27, 2022
18: Data-Driven Public Defense Policy with Stephen Hanlon

In today’s episode, I speak with Stephen Hanlon, who has been working for over 30 years to drive forward public interest law.


With the depth of his experience to back him up, he’ll explain how data is the key to pushing forward legislation and law suits that can help to reshape and empower public defense.

When advocating for a change to any system, there has to be mutli-faceted approaches. Some people respond well to the emotional stories. For others, it is data they find the most compelling, and that is what Stephen brings to the table. Data to help bolster the compelling stories of defenders and their clients from around the country.

Stephen Hanlon holds a tremendous amount of wisdom and his passion for bettering the system will inspire you to take action! 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • How Stephen made his way into the public defense system. [9:37]
  • Handling states that won’t listen to data. [20:42]
  • Case refusal. [25:31]
  • Why the public defense system needs business plans. [27:14]
  • Will we ever be in a place where public defenders only take the cases they can handle? [33:19]
  • How contract-dependent states should be handled. [52:24]
  • A message from Stephen to the future generations of attorneys. [58:57]




Stephen Hanlon, a leader in Public Interest Law over the last 50 years




Lawyer Hanlon


Missouri Study

Louisiana Study

Oregon Study

Colorado Study

Rhode Island Study

Indiana Study

Texas Study

New Mexico Study

State of Louisiana v Covington

State of Missouri V Waters

Equal Defense Act of 2019


Memorable Quotes:


“Are we willing to live in a society that reflects the principles that we say we value?” (5:56, Hunter)


“I want a lever. I want to be the leveraging force to incentivize and indeed force change.” (13:01, Stephen)


“The whole problem with this thing is that there’s no business plan for the criminal processing system. We should have never agreed to do this.” (27:14, Stephen)


“Without an adequate defense lawyer, a court is not properly constituted.” (31:36, Stephen)


“Implore your representatives to ask questions besides guns and abortions.” (39:06, Hunter)


“The federal is the floor, the states are the ceiling. Go for the ceiling!” (40:06, Stephen)


Contact Hunter Parnell:



Apr 20, 2022
17: Public Defenseless 202

In this special solo episode, I share some thoughts on the first 16 episodes, thoughts from my interactions with people who have reached out, and the direction the show will be going over the next few points

I wanna first thank all the people who have gone through the system who have reached out for help/advice/or to share your story. This project is designed to correct the system so that it helps people like yourself, so thank you! 

In light of the nomination hearings for soon to be Justice Jackson, I was yet again struck by the fear of being soft on crime. As I discusss in this episode, the Constitution, the bedrock of the American legal system is incredibly soft on crime. I talk a lot about how we manage our desire for justice and the obligations to protect the rights of people. 

Lastly, I cover the danger I see in our legal system continuing to march away from jury trials and instead towards plea deals.



Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Difficulties in building Trust between PDs and clients [1:43]
  • Soft on crime policies. [9:55]
  • Why jury trials are so important. [13:03]
  • The issues with plea deals. [19:09]
  • What Hunter has learned from each episode to date. [25:44]
  • The importance of supervision. [33:45]
  • The intersection of race and class. [45:32]


Memorable Quotes:


“The most consistent thing I hear from people who reach out to me is the mistrust in the indigent defense with public defenders.” (1:49, Hunter)


“If our founding fathers wanted to make a harsh on crime policy, a pro-police constitution, I’m going to tell you they couldn’t have done a worse job of doing it.” (9:55, Hunter)


“The theme is so clear, ladies and gentleman, that we are no longer a system of trials. We are a system of plea deals, and I do not think that bet drives us in the correct direction.” (21:29, Hunter)


“If you want public defenders to be better, it's good to have supervision in a lot of cases and have supervising attorneys who have that guiding hand and the knowledge to help people make more informed decisions.” (34:48, Hunter)


“If you actually look at the living wage standard in most states and most communities, we don't come anywhere close to giving attorneys to all the people who cannot actually afford them.” (46:41, Hunter)


Contact Hunter Parnell:



Apr 13, 2022
16: Can Assigned Counsel Public Defense System Work? w/Tim Rensch & Bob Pesall

16: South Dakota Public Defense w/ Tim Rensch & Bob Pesall


South Dakota is like many states around the country in that there are some public defender offices in the “cities,” but the rest of the state is served through an assigned council system.


Today, I talk to two incredibly experienced and knowledgeable assigned councils in the state: Tim Rensch and Bob Pesall.


Each shares a different perspective on public defense in South Dakota, Tim being in an urban area and Bob being in a rural one. 


With few outside evaluations of public defense in the state, we go through the nuances and strengths of the system in South Dakota.


Tim and Bob are two extraordinary examples of assigned councils that go above and beyond for their clients and truly care about the quality of the system. 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • How Tim and Bob got into public defense & their roles. [5:49]
  • The number of assigned councils in the state. [12:54]
  • The Catastrophic Legal Expense Relief Program. [17:43]
  • The importance of expert witnesses. [22:02]
  • The struggles of those who suffer from addiction and mental illness in the system. [28:54]
  • How the debt of cycle perpetuates criminality. [47:02]
  • The future direction of public defense in South Dakota. [50:18]



Tim Rensch, President Rensch Law Corporation, South Dakota Assigned Counsel, 

Bob Pesall, Assigned Counsel, Flanders South Dakota



Rensch Law Corporation 


Pesall Law Firm


Memorable Quotes:


“I've never called myself a public defender. I always have said I'm a court-appointed lawyer and I've always had great admiration for the public defenders who work the ins and outs of the court system every day.” (7:21, Tim)


“It can be a little tricky when you try and weigh the cost-benefit of getting lawyers on board versus the actual seriousness of the case.” (17:11, Bob)


“So the judges really, truly want to get people what they need. They just don't want to be burning money on experts that are useless.” (25:44, Bob)


“I think meth is a horrible drug. It's the only drug for which you've never heard anybody advocate socially about any useful benefit whatsoever. And it's a shame what happens.” (34:25, Tim)


“I think people are indigent. That means that they don't have the money to hire a lawyer. And to me, it does seem unfair to take somebody who is defined as indigent and then force them to pay these attorney's fees. No matter the outcome.” (39:47, Tim)


“I think that there are good experiences and bad experiences. The experiences that I've had, and that I'm aware of are mostly good. People want defendants to be represented. They want them to be represented by good lawyers. They don't want to have to redo things three times. And generally, the thought is, is that the system wants to be fair and be good to people.” (51:14, Tim)


Contact Hunter Parnell:


Apr 06, 2022
15: Was a Lawsuit Enough to Fix Missouri Public Defense? w/Anthony Rothert
The Missouri public defense system has been shaped by lawsuits that the ACLU has brought forth. 

Meet Anthony Rothert, one of the individuals behind those lawsuits.

Anthony is the Director of Integrated Advocacy at the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and is here today to give you the inside scoop on the cases.

You’ll learn the ins and outs of the indigent system in this state, from long wait times to high public defender turnover rates.

This episode will leave you with renewed hope that there are people out there working tirelessly to positively change the system for good. 

Key Topics and Takeaways:

  • Anthony’s role in the Missouri criminal justice system and the history of public defense in the state. [4:52]
  • How public defender turnover affects indigent clients. [9:32]
  • Public defense legislative history in the state. [12:27]
  • Ethical dilemmas in the Missouri indigent system. [19:52]
  • Anthony dives deep into the class-action lawsuits against the state of Missouri. [32:06]
  • Indigent wait times in Missouri. [37:56]
  • Goals for the future. [43:03]
  • Progressive prosecutors. [50:04]


Anthony Rothert, Director of Integrated Advocacy, American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri


ACLU of Missouri 

 2009 Spangenberg Report

1993 Spangenberg Group Report 

2005 Spagenberg Group Report 

Michael Barret Letter to Gov Nixon 

2014 ABA Missouri Workload Study

Memorable Quotes:

“Part of the reason attorneys leave is they’re overworked, they are not satisfied by their work because they don’t have time to do as good a job as they would like. And they’re not even paid well for it.” (15:24, Anthony)

“Defendants are faced with a choice. You can proceed without counsel, or you can wait.” (38:57, Anthony)

“We will be asking the court to enter a judgment in the case requiring the state to provide enough money so we don’t have waitlists.” (42:02, Anthony)

“We could decriminalize things. That would solve a lot.” (44:11, Anthony)

“It’s easy to say that the far-off bad guy is not good. But then when you work with attorneys who work in these offices, you realize, okay, they’re doing their job, which is to protect constitutional rights for individuals.” (48:09, Hunter)

Contact Hunter Parnell:


Mar 30, 2022
14: West Virginia Public Defense with Dana Eddy & Stacey Fragile

West Virginia Public Defense with Dana Eddy & Stacey Fragile


When it comes to the public defense system, simple human connection is more important than you might think. 


Dana Eddy, Executive Director of West Virginia Public Defender Services, and Stacey Fragile, Chief Public Defender of the 10th Judicial Circuit, are here to prove just that. 


In this week’s episode, Dana and Stacey speak about their community outreach efforts in the state and how they are making a difference at a local level. 


They share their arguments for a holistic defense model and lessening the time people spend in the criminal justice system. 


You’ll learn that by connecting with people individually and focusing on the root of the problems, the entire public defense system could be changed for good. 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • The structure of public defense in West Virginia and Dana’s role in it. [8:08]
  • Stacey’s role in West Virginia Public Defense. [12:34]
  • Community outreach programs in West Virginia. [18:57]
  • Drug decriminalization in the state. [28:25]
  • Public defense staffing issues in West Virginia. [49:56]
  • Stacey & Dana’s biggest goals for public defense in the state. [54:44]




Dana Eddy, Executive Director of West Virginia Public Defender Services


Stacey Fragile, Chief Public Defender of the 10th Judicial Circuit




West Virginia Public Defender Services


Spangenberg Report West Virginia


West Virginia Annual Reports:  


Memorable Quotes:


“It’s hard to say in the state of West Virginia that we need more money. I do think we need to spend it more intelligently.” (14:17, Dana)


“It’s always going to be a challenge to get the community to accept individuals who have been convicted of criminal charges that carry with them the stigma of either a sex offense or violent offense.” (26:31, Dana)


“The stigma is still there locally with the citizens in terms of all drugs are bad drugs, and until that changes, I don’t see us legalizing.” (32:45, Stacey)


“If I have one thing on my Christmas wishlist for this season, it would be that we look at a different mechanism for appointing counsel to these cases, but it's going to be hard to convince local judges that they need to give up out of authority, that control, over their courtroom.” (47:52, Dana)


“What I would say is there’s a lack of people who are really dedicated to public service and the public mission.” (52:15, Dana)


“We have to remove the stigma regarding mental health or we’re never going to make progress as a society.” (1:09:14, Stacey)



Contact Hunter Parnell


Mar 23, 2022
13: How Florida Disregards the Right to Counsel w/Rex Dimmig

From Gideon to Argersinger, much of the legal framework for the public defense came about because of the flaws in Florida public defender system. As one of the only places in the country with elected public defenders, it offers up several quirks that should worry people about the status of public defense in the state.


Today, I speak about this complicated system with Rex Dimmig, Chief Public Defender of the Florida 10th Judicial District and President of the Florida Public Defender Association.


Without glossing over the weaknesses of the system, you’ll hear how asking for an attorney may eventually lead to you losing the right to vote, a shortage of investigators  and staff, and an increasing number of ways the state makes you pay for a "free" attorney.


Rex gives you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Florida criminal justice system while stressing the importance of independence.


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Rex’s background and role in the Florida indigent system. [4:37]
  • How a shortage of resources has created a crisis. [9:09]
  • Efforts to improve Florida public defense. [13:20]
  • Why Florida has elected public defenders. [20:11]
  • The problems of a fee-based model. [25:09]
  • Exploring the 6th amendment. [36:16]
  • What is contributing to the low levels of representation in the state of Florida. [45:00]
  • Florida’s failure in reducing recidivism. 




Rex Dimming, Chief Public Defender Florida 10th Judicial District & President of Florida Public Defender Association




Florida Public Defender Association 


“Despite Common Belief, Floridians Can't Always Get a Free Public Defender.”


“Prosecutors, Public Defenders Face Case Backlogs and Smaller Budgets.” - The Florida Bar, August 11, 2020


Memorable Quotes:


“We’re generally satisfied with the distribution of resources, we’re not at all satisfied with the quantity of resources that we are given.” (8:34, Rex)


“I understand the concern that particularly in this hyper-partisan era, why some people might have some reservations about the elected process. All I can tell you is here in Florida. We haven't had that problem. The people who run for public defender are folks who are truly dedicated to the cause of indigent criminal defense.” (21:10, Rex)


“Next to funding, independence is one of the hardest things to establish and the hardest thing to maintain of any public defender system.” (23:06, Hunter)


“There’s got to be a serious exploration of ways to increase revenue that are not dependent upon user fees that are just never going to be paid in substantial numbers.” (34:55, Rex)


“In the effort to make sure that the worst perpetrators are punished, we create such a sweepingly aggressive punishment system that those who probably shouldn’t be given similar results in their life are then straddled with it.” (44:34, Hunter)


“What the goal of the criminal justice system has to be is to change people’s unlawful conduct. If that’s not the goal of your system, then locking somebody up, all that does is guarantee that once they’re back out, they’re going to re-offend.” (52:44, Rex)

Mar 16, 2022
12: Why Are Virginia Public Defenders Only Paid to Work on a Case for Two Hours? w/Amari Harris

In the American conversation, there is a large overlap between class and race. Yet very often, we underplay the role that class plays in the dynamics of our legal system

In today’s episode, Hunter chats with Amari Harris, the Equity Diversity and Inclusion Attorney for Virginia Public Defenders to discuss those dynamics and more.

He describes his much-needed position within the Virginia public defense system, the broken payment structure for contract attorneys, the ways in which Virginia prosecutors can engage in trial by ambush, and the important of crafting public messaging around public defense to fit the demographics and needs of the communities they serve.

Amari bridges the gap between practicing public defenders and their clients—helping them effectively approach each client’s unique life experiences.

This episode challenges people to constantly think about how messaging around public defense will most effectively get people across the racial and socioeconmic spectrum to care about public defense reform.


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • An overview of the Virginia public defense system & Amari’s role within it. [3:04]
  • Why many cases don’t get an investigation even though they need one. [18:26] 
  • The negative impacts of “trial by ambush.” [21:03]
  • Ways that the rural areas are disadvantaged in Virginia. [24:57]
  • How Amari handles the massive amount of diversity in the state. [30:58]
  • Amari walks you through Virginia indigency standards. [43:55]
  • Hunter and Amari dig deep into class arguments. [46:15]
  • Amari’s goals for a better public defense system of tomorrow in Virginia. [50:01]




Amari Harris, Equity Diversity and Inclusion Attorney for Virginia Public Defenders




Virginia Defenders


Justice Forward


Gideon’s Promise


2016 ACLU report on Prosecutor Power

“Unparalleled Power: Commonwealth’s Attorneys, Voters and Criminal Just Reform in Virginia”. American Civil Liberties Union. June 2016. At Page 1-5

Memorable Quotes:


“Being a great lawyer is fantastic, but you could be a great lawyer and a bad public defender if you can’t relate to your clients, if you can’t engender yourself to the community in some way, then you’re doing our clients a disservice.” (6:20, Amari)


“If there’s one thing that I know from just looking nationally, when you have a flat fee structure like this, you’re not getting investigation.” (18:09, Hunter)


“Just having someone that thinks a little bit differently than another person in the room makes that other person so much smarter than if they just read about the information.” (32:46, Amari)


“If we think of diversity and inclusion only as representing ethnic and racial things, you’re missing the point.” (34:53, Hunter)


“I think race does dictate a lot of what goes on in the criminal justice system and it’s been historic, but if you lead with that, then you will lose a lot of people.” (42:59, Amari)


“Every public defender who stays in this long enough will work under blue and red administration.  And the idea that you simply have to throw up your hands and go ‘well shucks, wait till the guy who agrees with me comes into office’ is not workable.” (49:30, Hunter)


Mar 09, 2022
11: Is the Cannabis Industry Falling Short in its Fight? with Steve DeAngelo

Right now, approximately 40,000 people are incarcerated for cannabis-related charges, while others are making millions of dollars in the legal industry. 


Steve DeAngelo, often considered “the father of the legal industry,” has been fighting for reform since the 1970s.


In today’s episode, Steve is here to talk about his work to reform both the cannabis industry and state laws through his organization the Last Prisoner Project.


He’ll disprove the common misconceptions around cannabis while teaching you the spirit of the plant.


Steve will leave you with a clear image of the ideal cannabis industry and will also give you arguments for cannabis reform to keep in your back pocket. 


Just by listening to this episode and sharing the information, you can be a part of the change! 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • What the Last Prisoner Project is and why it’s important. [10:33]
  • Decriminalization vs. full legalization. [19:53]
  • Bringing people who were harmed by cannabis prohibition into the legal industry. [22:19]
  • Protecting yourself against the predatory cannabis industry. [29:56]
  • Should cannabis reform be a primary issue? [31:40]
  • The importance of coalition building. [33:53] 
  • Exploring faith-based opposition. [40:03]
  • Legalization of other psychoactive plants. [49:48]




Steve DeAngelo, Father of the Legal Cannabis Industry, Founder of Harborside Dispensary, Founder of the Last Prisoner Project






Last Prisoner Project


Norml Cannabis Advocacy Group


Memorable Quotes:


“Every governor in the United States of America has the power to release cannabis prisoners with the stroke of a pen. And we believe that, especially in states where voters have voted to legalize cannabis, that every governor should do so.” (12:49, Steve)


“I think that mobilizing people to defend their right to be able to grow cannabis in their own homes is pretty achievable.” (31:2, Steve)


“I believe that cannabis is more than just another product. There's no other product that teaches us lessons and that gives us a common value system.” (35:55, Steve)


“When you look at the cannabis plant across the breadth of human history, what you find is that every single human culture on this planet has adopted and used this planet successfully almost without exception.” (43:13, Steve)


“When you look at the total range of substances that are out there, there's no question that cannabis should not be illegal. It should not be restricted. In fact, cannabis use should be celebrated and promoted because it gives social benefits rather than harms.” (50:48, Steve)


“My belief is that if more people around the world consume cannabis, that we're going to end up living in a better world.” (58:37, Steve)

Mar 02, 2022
10: How did Colorado Build one of the Best Public Defense Systems? w/Doug Wilson

Colorado’s Doug Wilson has worked in the public defense system for over 40 years, so to say he holds a boatload of knowledge is an understatement!


Colorado has one of the best models of public defense and Doug is one of the people responsible for that success. 


In this episode, Doug explains how he worked with the Colorado legislature to create a system built on independence and increase their budget by over 40 million dollars. 


You’ll also hear about Colorado’s weaknesses—poor determination standards, court fees, and a lack of community outreach. 


However, Wilson continues to advocate for an improved public defense system in Colorado. 


In a world where not everybody gets access to representation and public defenders are overworked and underpaid, Doug Wilson is tenaciously working to change that. 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Why Colorado’s public defense system so well and how Doug laid that foundation [4:05]
  • Public defense is a part of public safety [12:35]
  • Defining recidivism [13:58]
  • Doug and I dive deep into The Colorado Project, a recent workload analysis [28:16]
  • Doug breaks down Colorado’s determination standards [32:09]
  • Colorado’s struggle to provide adequate mental health services [50:30]
  • The negative impacts of horizontal representation [1:04:06]




Doug Wilson, Chief Public Defender of Aurora Municipal Defender Office and former Chief Public Defender of The Colorado Office of the State Public Defender 




NLADA Aurora Public Defender Assessment

ACLU Report on Colorado Municipal Courts

Office of the State Public Defender of Colorado

Aurora Office of the Public Defender

Do You Qualify for a Public Defender in Colorado?

Colorado Workload Study


Memorable Quotes:


“Indigent clients must be given the same constitutionally effect and officiant counsel as folks who can afford to pay for their attorney. That’s huge. You don’t see that level of independence or those mandates in very many systems around the country.” (6:38, Doug)


“We're part of the public safety discussion as well, because for every person that we can keep out of the system or keep from coming back into the system, by our intervention or our representation, or our alternative sentencing plan… that protects the public.” (12:45. Doug)


“50% of the bill of rights is there to protect the individual against the government.” (22:00, Doug)


“So for my listeners, indigent does not mean just the homeless person on the side of the road with two pennies to rub together. It is the family next door struggling with medical debt, it is the family across the street who just got into a fender bender, it is the guy at work who just got laid off to no fault of his own. It is every ordinary people who will face the brunt of the legal system without an attorney.” (38:07, Hunter)


“There are only five dedicated, municipal structured public defender offices in the country. Think about that.” (49:59, Doug)


“When a person's livelihood is dependent upon them not realizing they're doing something bad, they will very rarely realize they're doing something bad.” (46:34, Hunter)

Feb 23, 2022
09: What Can Cannabis Reform Teach us About Criminal Justice Reform with Christian Sederberg
Marijuana legalization is a hotly debated subject, so it’s no wonder there’s so much misinformation surrounding it.   

Today’s guest, Christian Sederberg, is here to teach you the truth.


Christian is a founding partner at Vincente Sederberg LLP, a national law firm that tackles drug reform.


This week, he will walk you through the complicated subject of marijuana legalization, from lobbying efforts to local advocacy.


He’ll teach you the misconceptions around the marijuana industry and by the time you’re done listening, you’ll be able to form your own informed opinion. 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • What Christian’s law firm does [4:28]
  • The policy side of Marijuana legalization [6:19]
  • Christian’s work in the mental health arena [20:45]
  • Health equity in the marijuana industry [29:16]
  • Where we should allocate tax dollars [33:16]
  • Marijuana crimes in legal states [41:36]
  • Why it’s hard to start a small business in the marijuana industry [47:11]
  • Christian’s long-term goals for marijuana policy [52:45]




Christian Sederberg, Founding Partner at Vicente Sederberg LLP




Vicente Sederberg Law Firm Bio

Marijuana Policy Project

Multipledisplenary Association for Psychedelic Studies

Headcount Voter Registration

To reach out to Christian:


Memorable Quotes:


“When you move to actually treating addiction, you have lower rates of recidivism, your jails have less issues, and you have more resources that could be allocated to what people would consider more serious (quote-unquote) crimes.” (16:34, Hunter)


“Their argument was if we create a tax system that relies upon mental health, would rely upon these tax dollars to have these programs, then we'll never be able to get to our ultimate goal of banning these products.” (23:28, Christian)


“This country is shifting its frame that there can be responsible marijuana users. They’re not all potheads.” (34:06, Christian)


“We think we know what people need instead of engaging with them and asking, and actually having them tell us what they need.” (40:02, Christian)


“We're talking about the fundamental problem with American law enforcement, in my opinion, which is that we still have a lot of work to do on how we treat the poorest communities.” (42:46, Christian)


“We need to fundamentally shift our mindset, to look at all of these issues as public health issues and individual health issues, not as criminal justice issues.” (53:17, Christian)

Feb 16, 2022
08: Why Did Indiana's Public Defense System Fail? w/Larry Landis

When it comes to public defense, Larry Landis is a legend.


As the former Head of the Indiana Public Defender Council, Larry has been in public defense since the 1970s and has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry.


As the architect of the current Indiana indigent defense system, he explains how the reimbursement model Indiana runs on came to be and how it affects people trapped in the legal system.


Because Larry has been in this industry for so long, you’ll get a unique behind-the-scenes view of the Indiana indigent defense system that you won’t get anywhere else! 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Larry’s background + an overview of his impressive career
  • The evolution of public defense infrastructure in Indiana
  • Larry’s past legislative work to improve Indiana public defense 
  • When the speediness of a trial gets in the way of a fair one
  • Why misdemeanors in Indiana are not reimbursed 
  • The vilification of public defenders
  • Winning back communities that have lost faith in public defenders
  • How we can encourage law students to see public defense as a legitimate career opportunity




Larry Landis, Former Head of the Indiana Public Defender Council



Sixth Amendment Center Report Indiana 

2017 Task Force on Indiana Indigent Defense

2020 American Bar Association Workload Study


Memorable Quotes:


“There’s too many cases trying to fit through a small funnel.” (6:40, Larry)


“We have tried numerous times to increase reimbursement for misdemeanors, but I’ve never been successful.” (12:25, Larry)


“Lawyers are no different than most people, they can be desensitized and numbed by the fact that they’re not providing effective representation. My position is they need to be much stronger at advocating and challenging the system and refusing to be enablers” (21:01, Larry)


“The adversarial system is designed for once that accusation is lodged, game on in terms of that, that train is rolling down the tracks. And if you don’t have someone to slow it down, you’re going to prison.” (38:52, Larry)


“There’s gotta be consequences right now, there’s virtually none. So the lawyers can get away with curing corners, counties can underfund it, and there’s no consequence.” (49:52, Larry)


“We have this idea that people who require indigent defense are the worst of the worst of society. When in reality, the vast majority of them are low-level offenders who given enough opportunity, given the resources and not just discarded from society can again be productive members.” (57:04, Hunter)


Feb 09, 2022
07: The Power of Creating an Independent Public Defense System w/Ben Baur

Today, I speak with Bennet Baur, the Chief Public Defender of New Mexico.

With the power of the people behind them, Ben Baur and the New Mexico Public Defenders were able to find independence and fight for desperately needed reforms. 

Yet a decade after gaining independence, the Law Offices of the Public Defender can handle only one-third of the cases they carry.

This week, join us as we uncover what is going right, what is going wrong, and how our community is put in danger because of a lack of public defense funding. 

Bennet Baur is a wonderful example of what happens when a public defender cares about personal freedom. 

Key Topics and Takeaways:

  • Bennet’s role and how his office came to be [3:49]
  • Important public policy issues in new Mexico public defense [8:10]
  • The 2007 caseload report that was done on New Mexico public defense [11:19]
  • Why public defense should be the baseline on how cases are charged [12:52]
  • The problems with a flat fee system [22:56]
  • What happens when a client is waiting for representation [35:29]
  • Problem with probations and how they are moving into a harm reduction model [41:12]
  • Representation of migrants [47:52]


Bennet Baur, Chief Public Defender at New Mexico Law Offices of the Public Defender


American Bar Association New Mexico Project

2007 Caseload Study 

2021 Caseload Study 

New Mexico Public Defender Website 

New Mexico Safe 

Memorable Quotes:

“It’s also policy, you know not just advocating for our clients, but advocating for what we think is good public policy.” (7:32, Ben)

“Because I work in the system, I believe that over-incarceration, that just putting people in jail, isn’t going to solve the problem.” (10:05, Ben)

“When those mistakes interact with a human being’s life, liberty, and their ability to make a living, those are mistakes that can’t happen.” ( 20:32, Hunter)

“The system is based upon is lawyers doing a lot of work for free for the state. And that's not the way that this should work. It shouldn’t be up to a lawyer to do work for free, which is what happens to provide ethical representation.” (28:11, Ben)

“Give us more money or give us fewer cases.” (33:49, Ben)

“I’ll say it again. We missed the point of these bail reforms. There are certain individuals who, because of poverty, are not a threat to the community and are in jail.” (38:01, Hunter)

“I hate that we as a society always have an overreaction to everything that happens, whether it’s on the left or right, or something bad happens that we don’t like. And then we over-correct, so we make it just as bad. And we can't get that pendulum to just sit right in the middle where it works ” (39:11, Hunter)

“You shouldn’t fund government services on poor people.” (40:13, Ben)

Feb 02, 2022
06: How the Louisiana Public Defenders are Paid to Lose w/Derwyn Bunton & Trisha Ward

Louisiana holds one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. 


And with a lack of funding, public defenders can only handle 21% of open cases at a time. 


In today’s episode, I speak to two impressive guests: Derwyn Bunton, Chief Public Defender of Orleans Public Defenders, and Trisha Ward, Chief Public Defender of Evangeline Parish.


Together, Derwyn and Trisha walk us through the complexities of the Louisiana indigent defense system and how its fee-based model leads to problems.


Derwyn and Trisha are truly beacons of strength in an overwhelming system. 


Key Topics and Takeaways:


An overview of Louisiana’s user pay system of justice [4:49]

The reality of fees in Louisiana [9:31]

The difficulties that Trish faces at a rural level [14:57]

How hurricanes affect public defense in Louisiana [17:27]

Pre-trial confinement in Louisiana & why it’s so long [20:07]

The types of people who go through the Louisiana indigent system [29:01]

Why the cases have piled up so high [38:42]

The importance of investigators [41:45]




Derwyn Bunton, Chief Public Defender of Orleans Public Defenders


Trisha Ward, Chief Public Defender of Evangeline Parish 




Orleans Public Defenders 


Evangeline Parish Public Defenders 


Memorable Quotes:


“Public defenders in Louisiana are paid to lose. Structurally paid to lose. This is an incentive to plead because that’s where the funding comes from.” [11:20, Derwin]


“What we need to do is let folks know that public define is a part of our constitution, but it’s also part of our political culture and heritage as a country.” [12:03, Derwin]


“It’s very easy to have your kids permanently removed and your rights terminated. So I think that may be the most egregious thing at the end.” [27:08, Trisha]


“We can also lower the amount of people who are going through the system in general because we are getting to the roots of criminality, that I think is so important for people to understand.” [37:35, Hunter]


“We are poorly, very poorly funded. And I’m having to just lay the basic groundwork right now, and call that me moving in a client-centered direction, which I do think it is, but there are many many challenges ahead because of the way that our systems are funded.” [40:28, Trisha]


“If we have investigations handled properly, the courts don’t have to deal with cases where innocence is obvious. You don’t need a bad actor to have somebody wrongfully accused of a crime.” [46:11, Hunter]


“I don’t see any true, true improvement in these rural districts until there is a better state system or funding mechanism.” [49:13, Trisha]


“Our criminal legal system has gotten so big, it impacts so many different parts of our lives, that we just need to bring it back to what it ought to be in my opinion, which is focused on community.” [50:36, Derwin]

Jan 26, 2022
05: What's Causing the Crisis in Maine's Public Defense System w/Justin Andrus

Meet Justin Andrus: Executive Director of the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services.


In this week’s episode, I speak with Justin about how he is massively improving the indigent defense system in the state of Maine. 


Maine is unique because 100% of their public defenders are contract attorneys, but Justin makes it work.


You’ll learn the ins and outs of public defense in Maine. By knowing the true realities of the system, you’ll walk away feeling motivated to create change.  


Key Topics and Takeaways:


  • Problems in the Maine indigent system [6:00]
  • Why Maine still has all contract attorneys [10:05]
  • How The Great Resignation has affected Maine public defense [14:10]
  • Why $80 per hour is still underpaying public defenders [16:05]
  • The Lawyer of the Day system and why it doesn’t always work as intended [19:51] 
  • Partial indigence [35:05]
  • What self-represented people should know [43:43]
  • The problems with fines and fees [50:57]




Justin Andrus, Executive Director of the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services



Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services 

Sixth Amendment Center Report on Indigent Defense in Maine

Maine Monitor/ProPublica Report on the MCILS issues in the past 

OPEGA Report on Finance Oversight Issues in MCILS


Reports mentioned at 7:42


Memorable Quotes:


“I do think that it is possible to have the structure that provides the necessary oversight and training and quality assurance for contracted attorneys.” (11:18, Justin)


“We need higher wages. Communicating how important it is and for people to understand how important it is that it’s the defendant who is harmed by this.” (19:26, Hunter)


“So the concept of partially indigent is maybe a misnomer. I agree. It doesn’t make a lot of sense on its face as a set of words.” (35:16. Justin)


“It isn’t this mortal combat between good and evil, as many people want it to be. It is individuals trying to do the best for the defendant, for the community, all of these things working in mind.” (38:15, Hunter)


“We are not a bunch of shady people helping evil doers be free to do more evil. And in fact, the vast majority of people accused of crimes are not evildoers at all.” (40:39, Justin)


“Society is safest when the most number of people are having their needs met.” (14:29, Justin)


“The first thing a self-represented defendant should know is don’t be self-represented if you could possibly avoid it.” (44:03, Justin)

Jan 19, 2022
04: Why is Public Defense Failing Nationwide? with David Carroll

04: Public Defense w/ David Carroll

This week, Executive Director of the Sixth Amendment Center, David Carroll walks us through how he got into public defense, the issues with public defense, and solutions that we can implement now.


You’ll learn the some the areas states continue to fail sixth amendment obligationa, the "the dirty little secret" of the American courtroom, and how the justice system can shift to support the public in this space.


Through David’s expert experience and unique perspective, you’ll get an inside view of the public defense system and the value of the sixth amendment being executed accurately.


Key Topics and Takeaways:

  • Misdemeanor representation issues
  • The impacts of excessive entanglement between judges and defenders
  • Police officer’s role in court and being held accountable on trial
  • The way to successfully campaign on public defense reform in a blue state or a red state
  • The diversity of public defense between states.
  • How failing to find Indigent Defense also harms our next generation



David Carroll, Executive Director of the Sixth Amendment Center



Sixth Amendment Center 

American Bar Association 10 Principles of Public Defense 


Memorable Quotes:


“America's little secret is that thousands of people are processed into jail every day, without ever speaking to an attorney, this is almost exclusively, but not entirely in misdemeanor courts.” (8:42, David)


“At the core of our justice system is the idea that the state has a burden, which that word should mean something, a burden to prove your guilt with evidence.” (11:20, Hunter)


“There should be a lawyer with the client. There should be a lawyer in the courtroom… it clearly shows to me that these aren't defendants who simply don't want to show up in court.” (17:46, David)


“Criminal justice is probably the largest expenditure of government's money at the state and local level. And we're not getting the aims we want with no one's feeling any safer. In fact, you're probably ruining people's lives and not making them productive citizens” (25:25, David)


“People are trying to do good by their communities. 95% of the people I've met even if they're doing some really, really problematic things, got into government or criminal justice because they did want to serve their communities.” (42:16, David)


“People hear fines and fees and they go, well, it's better than jail.” (58:20, Hunter)


Jan 12, 2022
03: Texas Public Defense with James McDermott and Scott Ehlers

In a country that lacks legal representation for all, some people are fighting for change. 


James McDermott, Chief Public Defender of Far West Texas, and Scott Ehlers, Director of Public Defense Improvement at the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, are two of those people.


In this group interview, James and Scott discuss the Texas Indigent Defense System and how they make a positive impact in their respective areas. 


We uncover the barriers stopping people from receiving fair legal representation and even hear some heartwarming stories about clients that James and Scott represent. 


If you want to dive deep into the complexities of the Texas Indigent Defense System and learn how you can help, this is the episode for you.


Key Topics and Takeaways 


  • What James and Scott do, and the role their offices play.
  • Community outreach and support services within the Texas Indigent Defense System.
  • Why the willingness for judges to work with public defenders is so important.
  • The barriers stopping Texas from providing fair legal representation.
  • The real price of public defense and why Texas has not allowed more state funding.
  • Who the average client of a public defense office is.
  • The importance of client-centered and holistic defense models.


James McDermott, Chief Public Defender Far West Texas

Far West Texas Regional Public Defender

Scott Ehlers, Director of Public Defense Improvement, Texas Indigent Defense Commission

Texas Indigent Defense Commission 



County Sixth Amendment Center

Texas Fair Defense Project 

Texas Inmate Families Association 

Dec 20, 2021
02: Why is it Common for People to be Held for a Year With No Attorney in Mississippi? w/Andre De Gruy

The Mississippi indictment process is known as the “black hole.” But out of that darkness comes some light: Andre De Gruy, State Public Defender of Mississippi.


This week, Andre walks us through how he opened the first state public defender trial office in Mississippi and the reality of public defense in that state. 


You’ll learn why change within the Mississippi public defense system is so difficult and how Andre has been working to change that story.


Through Andre’s expert experience and unique perspective, you’ll get an inside view of the Mississippi legal system and why funding is so hard to come by.


Key Topics and Takeaways


  • The history of Mississippi public defense.
  • The financial reality of the Mississippi legislature.
  • The incremental approach and if it’s the most effective way.
  • How the public defender office was created and what it’s designed to do.
  • Why there is opposition from the judges for state funding.
  • The conditions of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
  • The Michigan Model.
  • Criminal reinvestment.


Where You Can Find Andre De Gruy, State Public Defender of Mississippi

Mississippi Office of the State Public Defender


Office of the State Public Defender 


Spangeberg Group Report 1997 

Sixth Amendment Center Report 2017 

Mississippi Task Force on Indigent Defense 2020 

Assessment on Indigent Defense 2016

Dec 20, 2021
01: Public Defense 101

If you are new to Public Defenseless or the topic of public defense, here’s where you should start!


In this special solo episode, host Hunter Parnell introduces himself, describes the background of this podcast, and shares everything you need to know about public defense before listening.


No matter how much you know about public defense, Hunter’s wise insight and gift for explaining complex topics in an easy-to-understand way will leave you with fresh knowledge to walk away with.


By listening, you’ll learn that the public defense industry is a lot more complicated than you may believe, and why it’s so important that everyone has access to legal representation.


One thing’s for sure: after listening to this episode, you’ll view public defense from an entirely new perspective. 


Key Topics and Takeaways 


  • Who the host is and his background in public defense.
  • The podcast’s purpose and why it was started.
  • The history of public defense.
  • Why public defense is an important and ethical obligation.
  • Public defense definitions you need to know.
  • Why not all people get the legal representation they need.
  • The future of public defense.


“Federal Poverty Level (FPL) - Glossary.” US Government, 2021


Montana Pay of Public Defenders- “Performance Audit: Public Defender Workforce Management”. Montana Legislative Audit Division. September 2020. At Page 38-43. 


National Academy of Sciences Report on Forensic Evidence- Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Sciences Community, National Research Council. Rep. Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward . National Academy of Sciences, August 2009. 


All of the Cases the say when people are required to have an attorney

28.United States v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648 (1984)

29.Powell v. Alabama, 387 U.S. 45, 57 (1932)

30.Massiah v. United States, 377 U.S. 201 (1964); Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444-45 (1966); Brewer v. Williams, 430 U.S. 387, 399 (1977)

31.Coleman v. Alabama, 399 U.S. 1, 9-10 (1970)

32.United States v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218, 236-38 (1967); Moore v. Illinois, 434 U.S. 220, 231 (1977); Kirby v. Illinois, 406 U.S. 682, 689-90 (1972)

33.McMann v. Richardson, 397 U.S. 759, 771, 771 n.14 (1970); Lafler v. Cooper, 566 U.S. ___, No. 10-209 at 3-4 (March 21, 2012); Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. ___, No. 08-651 at 16 (March 31, 2010)

34.Hamilton v. Alabama, 368 U.S. 52 (1961)

35.Brewer v. Williams, 430 U.S. 387, 398-399 (1977); Powell v. Alabama, 387 U.S. 45, 57 (1932)

36.Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335, 344-45 (1963); Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U.S. 25, 37, 40 (1972); Alabama v. Shelton, 535 U.S. 654, 662 (2002); and In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1, 36-37 (1967)

37.Lafler v. Cooper, 566 U.S. ___, No. 10-209 at 6 (March 21, 2012); Glover v. United States, 531 U.S. 198, 203-204 (2001); Mempa v. Rhay, 389 U.S. 128 (1967); and Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 538 (2003).

38.Douglas v. California, 372 U.S. 353, 357 (1963); and Halbert v. Michigan, 545 U.S. 605, 621 (2005)

39.Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778, 790 (1973)

40.Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 489 (1972)

41.Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458, 464 (1938); United States v. Ruiz, 536 U.S. 622, 629 (2002); Iowa v. Tovar, 541 U.S. 77 (2004)


ABA 10 Principles of Public Defense- ABA Standing Committee On Legal Aid And Indigent Defendants. “ABA Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System.” American Bar Association . American Bar Association, 2002. 

Dec 20, 2021
Welcome to Public Defenseless

Anyone paying attention can tell you that our criminal justice system is broken, but the complexity of the legal world overwhelms most people simply trying to get through another day.

Public Defenseless explores the rot in the justice system and what we can do about it. Join host, Hunter Parnell, as he interviews top defense attorneys and criminal justice stakeholders from across the country as they pull apart the convoluted web of our criminal justice system.

Like so many of you, Hunter is not an attorney, simply tired of a news cycle and talking heads that offer no real solutions to the ever-growing list of problems we face. Hunter hopes that with this information, you will share his belief that ordinary people still can make a difference.

Dec 14, 2021