ABA committee formed to help public defenders

The American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section and Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense (SCLAID), in partnership with the National Association for Public Defense, have announced the creation of the Task Force for Public Defense Independence.

The mission is to protect and strengthen independence and enhance the public’s understanding of the critical role public defense independence plays in ensuring a fair and just criminal justice system.

Co-chaired by Keisha Hudson, chief defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, and Malia Brink, senior policy attorney at the Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center at the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, the panel is comprised of a diverse group of defenders and legal scholars with expertise in the criminal legal system.

The task force will be assisted by an advisory board of prominent scholars and practitioners with experience addressing political or judicial encroachments on the defense function.

In 2022, the ABA passed the ‘10 Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System’ to simplify the critical components of effective public defense, said SCLAID Chair Bryant Y. Yang. “Independence was Principle 1. In 2023, the ABA revised those principles, and independence remained Principle 1 because independence is vital to the public defense function.”

For additional information on the task force, visit www. americanbar.org/groups/criminal_justice/committees/taskforces/public-defense.