Department of Justice Grant Awarded to _, two Others for Improving Public Defender Training

CHICAGO, July13, 2010 – The U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance has awarded the _ a substantial grant to work on a National Indigent Defense Training and Technical Assistance Project, which primarily will result in recommendations for providing training and technical assistance for this country’s indigent defense system.

The ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants will collaborate with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Spangenberg Project at George Mason University to help improve the quality of indigent defense representation across the country through a series of regional trainings.

The collaboration will commence work on the project with the following activities:

  • Crafting a needs assessment to consider the training required by public defenders;
  • Designing a curriculum for use in training public defenders;
  • Presenting four regional training sessions;
  • Establishing a pilot fellows program for new defenders to work alongside experienced advocates at model agencies that provide indigent defense services;
  • Hosting a focus group for leading national defense advocates that will develop recommendations to improve indigent defense nationwide; and
  • Defining best practices.

“Many lawyers go into defense work because they want to protect the rights of indigent defendants,” explains Robert E. Stein, chair of the Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants, the ABA group that is managing the association’s role in the program.

“All too often, what these lawyers find is that they simply cannot provide effective representation, especially in jurisdictions that lack proper funding and resources.  Our goal with this project is to identify what is deficient in the indigent defense system and to provide public defenders and other providers with the tools to properly represent their clients.  Ultimately, these trainings will help improve the system on a national level.”

Project activities are scheduled to begin this summer and will conclude within 18 months.

Program details, including locations for the regional trainings, the training curriculum, the needs assessment survey, and fellowship details will be posted on the ABA Indigent Defense/Public Defender System website.

With nearly 400,000 members, the _ is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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