R2C National Consortium Quarterly Webinar

R2C National Consortium Quarterly Webinar

PREETI MENON: Thank you so
much for joining me today for the Right to Council
National Consortium Quarterly Webinar. I am a little under the weather
and I asked my colleague Genevieve Citrin to please
take over the webinar for me today so you don’t
have to hear me cough throughout the webinar. So Genevieve, could
you please lead in. GENEVIEVE CITRIN: Great. Thank you, Preeti,
and thank you, everyone for joining us today. This is the first webinar, first
quarterly webinar of the Right to Council National Consortium. The purpose of this webinar is
to provide consortium members with updates, and so we’ll have
a couple of people speaking on each topic and then we’d like
to open a floor so that people can join in and provide any
information and any updates on what they’re working on. So today, we are very lucky to
have two Johns with us today. And we have John Burkhart
from the Louisiana Campaign for Equal Justice who
will be discussing an initiative dedicated to
fair funding for Louisiana’s public defenders. And we also have Jon Rapping
from Gideon’s Promise who will talk about
reclaiming our place in the criminal
justice narrative and transforming the
culture of indigent defense. We’ll then talk a little bit
about our market research that’s going to be conducted by
Belden Russonello Strategists. And we will close
with a social media update by Ivan Dominguez
as the National Association of Criminal Defense
Lawyers, and then we will open up the floor
for updates and questions. But before I turn it
over to John Burkhart, I’d like to introduce Kim
Ball, who most of you know, she is a senior policy
advisor for adjudication at the Bureau of Justice
Assistance, the Department of Justice. Kim works with national,
state, and federal partners to ensure the fair
administration of justice in criminal court. In addition to her dedication
to the Right to Counsel initiative, including her hard
work on this national campaign and smart defense, she works
on Smart Pretrial and Smart Prosecution , demonstrating the
importance of focusing on all actors of the justice system. And I will turn it over
to you at this point. KIM BALL: Thank you, Genevieve. Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us today. I just wanted to say
hello and just talk about a few things that have
gone on since we saw you all in November. I hope you all got
the newsletter, the first newsletter of the
Right to Counsel National Campaign. And if you have any ideas for us
or want to see your initiative or things that you’re
doing in the newsletter, please send that to
American University, Preeti and Genevieve. I know I closed the
meeting in November talking about the Smart Defense sites. I just wanted to remind
you that of the sites, so it’s New York City,
the state of Kentucky, the state of Washington,
several counties– I think 15 counties in
Texas doing a project, and Alameda County. We’re very excited to have Smart
Defense join BJA’s Smart Suite and Smart Justice
for the first time. It’s an initiative that
focuses on research and having a research
partner from the beginning of the project. You can find out more
about all the sites and what we’re doing
at our new website. It’s a
SmartDefenseInitiative.org. And I tested earlier, if you
just Google Smart Defense Initiative, it should be
the third one that comes up, and you can link
right to our website and find out all about
the site and where to get more information. Also, wanted to
remind you about where they are physically located. Because part of our
goal is to coordinate resources and
activities and what’s going on among all
of our partners and across the United States. So if you know of anyone
who knows jurisdiction, or if you know of any
work that’s going on, please reach out to the
National Legal Aid & Defenders Association or to me, and
we can help coordinate and put all that out. I wanted to let you know that
BJA is funding some defense initiatives this year. We will be announcing those
in late summer, so stay tuned. We did not compete
anything this year, it will all be
supplemental funding. We do anticipate a new site
or two with Smart Defense, and that will announced
later this summer. Also wanted to remind
everyone on the phone that in the president’s
fiscal year ’17 budget, for the third time,
there is line item money for criminal defense,
the right to counsel, and also civil legal aid. And the president put
those in his budget, but it is Congress that
appropriates the money. So you’re out talking
to people specifically or US representatives,
please educate them on the need for this money. It would be very, very nice for
us to get some dedicated money to defense. The only way we can do that is
if Congress appropriates it. The executive branch
and the president, we’re pulling our
weight and we’re getting it in that budget. But now it’s up to people like
you out in the field and that work for Congress–
because I don’t want– to educate about the
need and to get the money in the appropriations bill. And I’ll close with telling you
a story about a success I feel that we’re already having
the Right to Counsel National Campaign. One of my goals has
personally always been through this initiative
to get the defense at the table and in the conversation. And so now everywhere I
go, I talk about defense. Every criminal justice
meeting on that, even if I’m there for
community court or I’m there for pretrial or
procedural justice. And recently I was at a BJA
meeting that had all the Smart Justice programs present, which
are very heavy with police and supervision. And everyone I met at that
meeting– we had researchers, state funders– there was a big group– it was an academy– to
talk about research. And to people I talked
to specifically. One was a researcher in Ohio,
a police researcher that had never thought about
the role of defense and part of that bigger
criminal justice reform. And I exchanged emails with
him and shared information. He’s reached out
to someone in Ohio, he’s going to include a
defense representative on his– some of his focus groups
and policy meetings that he conducts. And so I feel that
that is a big success. I also talked to a state
senator from a large state that has worked with some of the
BJA JAG formula money and talk to him about the
importance of defense. And he was very impressed
that the Department of Justice was including defense
in the Smart Project. He promised me to consider
defense and funding, and to think about it
when scheduling meetings and looking at
participant lists. So those were two successes
that I wanted to highlight, so that’s one of the purposes
of our quarterly webinars– encourage each of you to
still think about that and talk defense
everywhere you go. And I look forward to
hearing John and Jon and Ivan and Genevieve today
on our agenda. So I’ll turn it back
over to Genevieve. Thank you. GENEVIEVE CITRIN:
Great, thank you, Kim. Thank you so much for
being a wonderful supporter and an avid champion
for the Right to Counsel and for those
encouraging examples of how we can really move this forward. And so now I would like to
introduce John Burkhardt, who is the campaign manager for the
Louisiana Campaign for Equal Justice, which is an
initiative dedicated to fair funding for
Louisiana public defenders. We spotlighted John Burkhardt
in the February newsletter. We also wanted you
to hear directly from John about his work. He is a new Consortium
member this year and we’re really excited
to have him join us. So with that, I will turn
it over to you, John. Thank you. JOHN BURKHART: Are right,
thank you very much. Can everyone hear me all right? I assume– I’ll get some
chats if that’s not the case, but Genevieve, thanks
for the introduction. Kim and Preeti and thanks
for everyone out there for being a part of this. My name’s John Burkhardt,
I am the campaign manager, soon to be the executive
director of the Louisiana Campaign for Equal Justice. We are dedicated to fair funding
for Louisiana’s public defense system. I imagine that most of you
have heard the news lately and it’s all true. And the fact that the
news is getting out there is in large part a
compliment to some of the people that enabled
me to be in the position that I am at. For a little bit
of a background, I started almost
three years ago. This was a grant-funded
project from the Open Society Foundations to the
Orleans Public Defenders. And the idea was that public
defense funding in Louisiana is unstable, unreliable,
and inadequate, and something had to be done. And it was an
entire blank canvas. There was no real
formula for how reform is supposed
to be brought, there was no
instruction manual when it comes to running
a campaign like this. It was just, here’s
the situation, go out there and
do what you can. And I’ve been very fortunate to
have a lot of more experience, a lot of very,
very bright people, and a lot of people that know
the landscape to guide me, but in many
respects, it was just kind of assembling the
vehicle as we were traveling. Some of the challenges that
we faced in the beginning– we like to use the Game
of Thrones metaphor. Within the public
defense community, it was very Game of Thrones-ey. You had a Louisiana
Public Defender Board, and then you have 42 judicial
districts, each of them had a district defender. It wasn’t as bad as it
could be, and that’s maybe because I’m always an optimist. But whenever you don’t
have enough resources and a lot of different
stakeholders, it’s a recipe for disaster. So there are members of
what we call the field. So these are the district
defenders in the field. There were many of them
that did not trust the state public defender board. There were many members of the
state public defender board that didn’t quite
believe in what was happening in the field. And then on top of that,
I’m a grant-funded– I’m the recipient of a grant to
the Orleans Public Defenders, and it’s kind of like
politics writ large, but in this case, whereas
the rest of the nation doesn’t trust Washington,
DC, a lot of Louisiana does not trust New Orleans. So there were
considerable hurdles, and part of that tough
sell that I had to do was to get out of New Orleans
and drive to Natchitoches and Monroe and all that– I’ve probably been to about
60 of the 64 parishes, but that’s just to understand
what the local experiences was like for public defense and not
just the Orleans take on it. Because like so many places– but yeah, like so many
places, it’s a state solution. It couldn’t be done locally
here in New Orleans, so it is about convincing
the Louisiana legislature to step up and fund it. But somebody didn’t tell me
the legislators, the senators, representatives
come from parts– the more rural parts,
so it was having to understand what
their situation was and wasn’t the same
thing as New Orleans. And another part
about that tough sell is that I didn’t
really have much of an institutional backing. Even though I had
this grant funding, it wasn’t like all of a
sudden I showed up and said, I’m here to fix everything. I didn’t have an immediate
vote of confidence from people, I had to earn the right to
be listened to by people, and I still feel like that
continues to be my job. And that’s both a challenge
but also really exciting and that definitely
keeps me motivated. And then obviously,
I don’t think there’s anyone on this
call that hasn’t struggled at one time or the other
with the final point and that’s funding. My project was 15 months. That I was how long I
had, and in 15 months you definitely can’t
assemble a coalition. You can lay all the groundwork,
but I only had a short mandate. And fortunately, we were
able to get some buy-in from some key stakeholders. We were able to– we’ve got a couple of
good research projects off the ground and get a
good understanding of what was needed to be
done, and we were able to get that
15-month grant renewed. We were able to have– since then we’ve been able
to cobble together grant after grant. We’re not quite– well, it’s
not quite rolling in it, but I’m still employed
three years later and very grateful
for it, and I think that’s attributed to a lot
of people that have really come through for me. As for the work, this is
my recipe for what to do. So it was hit the
road and listen. So I am a platinum member of
Enterprise Rent-A-Car and that is because I just– every few weeks I would just go. Louisiana’s very much
a face-to-face state, so a lot of times you
make the calls and email, it wouldn’t get answered,
it wouldn’t get returned, so it’s about showing up
in all these jurisdictions and sitting down with
district defenders and having Old Fashioneds on
a porch, it’s going hunting, it’s going fishing, it’s
going to dance recitals, attending movies, reading
books with people, but just getting to know
people, learning a bit more about the state, and especially
about their district’s needs. From all these conversations, it
was really getting on the road that I first learned about
a lot of the distrust that happens between the state
board and the field. That wouldn’t have happened
if I stayed in an office in New Orleans. I had to get out there and
drive the 300 miles for someone to trust me to tell me that. And then I had to honor that and
be honest with people and say, I don’t think that’s
possible, and then say, I will definitely
keep that between us. So it was about
building that trust, and that was especially
about being in person and being in the room. And personally,
from all that work, I was able to get everyone’s
impression, all the district defenders, and then I
could go back to them and say, here’s what I learned. Here’s what you all told me. And remarkably,
people said, yeah, that sounds about
right, and from there, it just got more
and more buy-in. And then the district
defender would point me out to a local advocacy group. They would introduce
me to their Kiwanis Club, their Rotary
Club, introduced me to their senator or
other stakeholders, and we would then– it’s almost like forming a
new team in 42 different parts of the state. So that would not have come if
I would have just written down my agenda and said, here’s
what I think is the best. It really did take
getting out there, and if they don’t buy-in, then
you don’t have a solution. So what we– that
is how it started, and then we formed what we
called a 4-prong approach to reform. And that’s policy advocacy
outreach and public education, media advocacy, and then
constituent mobilization and organization. Policy advocacy is pretty– what we stand for is a stable,
reliable funding mechanism for public defenders. We think that it benefits that
go to– other stakeholders at the local level should go
to your district defender. And we believe that also
retirement health benefits and any other benefits should go
towards your district defender, whereas now, public
defenders pay rent. So these are– they’re all
relative, I think they’re all quite anodyne solutions, I don’t
think there’s anything terribly radical about it, but it
took all that legwork to get the buy-in to believe in that. And fortunately, we’ve
been able to get just about every district
defender to sign on to what is a reform
blueprint, the 20-page document that highlights what’s
wrong with public defense funding in Louisiana and what we
believe the solution should be. And so we got that buy-in,
and then a lot of that also results from
research that I’ve done and that I’ve been able
to have interns do, primarily looking at
costs of what expenditures are for district defenders
compared to district attorneys. And we’re not about
slinging mud or saying that other stakeholders
earn too much or do this or do that, we’re
just trying to highlight the work that public
defenders do in Louisiana and why we deserve and
why the community deserves more funding for us. So that’s what a lot of our
research, a lot of– well, what we did, put into
that, and then from there we took the show on the road. And that’s outreach
and public education. Again, a very personal state,
a very face-to-face state, so that is driving
out and speaking to Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis
Clubs, chambers of commerce. I just generally don’t
say no if someone’s going to introduce me to a meeting. A lot of churches, and
it’s about presenting– I think we have a message
that we might frame in a different way
depending on the audience, but it’s pretty universal– universally applied to
everyone in the state. So that’s the other
part, just get out there. And sometimes with the
district defenders, sometimes it’s
just me on my own. Third prong is media advocacy,
and some of that– these are op-eds that
I’ve written or done interviews with various media. And then another part is
just building relationships with reporters so
that, say, if you want to do a story on public
defense, just reach out, I’d be happy to provide you with
information or just a contact. And like I said, just building
relationships of trust with them, and I
think some of that’s definitely shown through many
interviews that we’ve had. That maybe you all
haven’t seen, but we’ve been able to get into media
outlets in Alexandria, in Shreveport, in Monroe, and
some of the smaller cities. Clearly The Washington Post
and New York Times as well, but it’s really about
getting in front of everyone. And the last part is constituent
mobilization and organization. We’re still in I’d say
the accruing phase, and that is still
making new contacts. Still getting out there
and getting more newsletter subscriptions. We do envision the
day when we will get people to either
organize the capital or call the legislators or
coalesce in one form or another to advocate for
reform, but we really believe that we have
one shot at that and we don’t yet
have the instrument before the legislature, which
is another long, long story. But we’re building
up towards that day, and hopefully that can coincide
with a good instrument that will solve this
crisis that we’re in. What we’ve done
is we’ve reached– with outreach, we looked
at key constituencies and a big part of this is
saying that if we come up with the same group of people
making the same arguments, we’ll get the same
results, and those results have not necessarily benefited
the clients of public defense. So these constituencies
are legal groups that’s telling judges and
district attorneys that we’ll get better results,
fewer appeals, and more efficient proceedings
if public defense has stable, reliable,
and adequate funding. The grassroots
communities, these are civic organizations,
but also a lot of churches. And this is maybe more why
some of us are in the work, but highlighting
the human element– what happens to someone
who innocent who gets caught in the system? What happens when
the punishment is disproportionate to the crime? What happens to our
communities when we have a lot of people cycling
in and out of our prisons and then returning? It’ no coincidence
that Louisiana has the highest incarceration
rate in the world, and it also has
one of the highest rates of wrongful
convictions, and also it has an absolutely terrible,
terrible crime problem. I think we’ve seen that this
doesn’t work, and a lot of that is because people– almost 90% of them in our
criminal justice system are poor, they need
an appointed attorney, and if they’re not getting
the right representation, the effects are felt in
the rest of their life, and certainly by the rest of us. And then business
groups, this is where we’re trying to diversify
the groups that we reach to in our constituency. And business groups,
you can think of it as like a fiscal
conservative approach. And it costs a lot to
incarcerate people. And it costs a lot when
someone spends their lives cycling in and out of our
prisons versus if they screw up, they go on
probation, and then that person we believe– we believe that a lot of people
who get caught in our system should be given the
chance for redemption, and they can then
go on to find jobs to be economically
self-sufficient and be taxpayers rather than
tax burdens behind bars. Believe it or not, for what you
might read about our economy, we actually have in some
places of employment– a problem with not
enough workers. So we try to stress
to businesses that funding public
defense can help identify who can work versus who
might need other punishment, and so we’re trying to get
them on board to strengthen our reach. This is provided by the
state public defender board, it’s also the
challenge that we face. This is an old map, but
all these red districts are districts that
are going insolvent, as in their public defense
offices are basically going to be closed. This is an old map, so basically
everything that’s in yellow is also red by this point. So what that leads to is– it’s terrible on the
ground, but it is also a great opportunity for reform. I don’t think– and many
people will agree with me when they tell me that
my job is impossible, but I don’t believe
that we’d really be able to achieve a great,
lasting reform if everything was working OK. I think it takes
a moment of crisis to create a new opportunity,
and part of that is, I’d like to think that we’re
developing the policy angles and doing outreach and
constituent mobilization to be the carrot to entice legislators
to make the right change and bring about stable,
reliable, and adequate funding. And then the sticks,
that comes from when those districts go insolvent. We’re already seeing some
litigation happening, so we’re hoping that the bad cop
approach of these lawsuits that are being filed by
various organizations will then kind of talk some
sense into the powers-that-be to provide better funding. And I guess just because
a lot of the funding challenges that–
that should say “miles to go before I sleep,”
I’ll throw my intern under the bus for that. But yeah, it’s kind of odd. I’m more used to listening
than I am presenting, and it’s great to be in
front of this group right here, but we also– I’m very well aware
and I’m the first one to say that we haven’t
achieved anything yet. Because we’re having
layoffs, we’re having people go unrepresented,
and this is really– it’s not the
beginning of our work, but this is when we need to
be working harder than ever. And it’s an exciting
time to be going around, it’s very humbling to
see how hard people work and what’s happening, especially
when reading the newspaper and to see examples
of the clients. But this is why we do the work,
this is why I do the work. And I guess I’ll do the
question part later, but if you want to connect,
my email is [email protected], but that’s our website. That’s our Facebook
and Twitter handle, and I’d be happy to entertain
any questions either I guess later on
in this program or through personal
correspondence, but I really appreciate this chance to speak. So thanks, y’all. GENEVIEVE CITRIN: Great. Thank you so much, John,
that was a really, really informative presentation
and we certainly appreciate all the hard
work that you’re doing. I think actually at this time
I’ll take a brief break just to see if anyone has any
questions or follow-up comments to John’s
presentation or anything that we’ve done thus far. So I think you can either use
Q&A to send in a question, or if you’d like to
speak, use the Hand button on the bottom-right,
and Monica can unmute you. So I’m just going to pause to
see if anyone wants to speak. OK. So I think at this point,
if something comes to you, please fill it in. Oh, we have one in right here. We just received a
question that says, what has been your
biggest challenge to date? John, if you could
take that question. JOHN BURKHART: Oh. Yeah, all of the above? I’d say one, securing funding,
particularly for this project. It has been difficult,
I’ve been informed that– I’ve been given two
weeks’ notice a few times, and so that’s difficult to
continue, but really, it’s– yeah, a lot of people
tell you it’s impossible what you’re angling for. You probably have seen the way
that the legislature can act and just knowing when you
know the right solution and seeing how others
can be dismissive and being told no quite a bit
has been the hardest part, but that’s also kind
of what gets me going, it’s nice to have been
persistently reaching out to someone for
months or even years, and then to get that first
meeting and to convince them. So every time I’m told no,
it’s just another chance to get back at them a little bit
later and come back stronger, so I’d say it’s that. GENEVIEVE CITRIN: Great. So if no one has
any other questions, please feel free to submit
questions along the way and we can come back to them at
the end if anything comes up. But with that, and I’m going
to pass it on to Jon Rapping. Jon he is the founder
of Gideon’s Promise. He’s been a very strong
supporter of this initiative since the inception and we
are really grateful for that. A renowned criminal justice
innovator and a 2014 MacArthur Foundation Genius Scholar
who’s dedicated his life to improving public
defense, and we are really happy to have you here. With that, Jon, take it away. JON RAPPING: Great. Thank you, Preeti. And hopefully
everyone can hear me. So as Preeti said, I am the
president of Gideon’s Promise and we work with
public defenders largely across the
South, but increasingly across the country. Not just to teach them to raise
the standard of representation for their clients
today, and not just to develop into tomorrow’s
indigent defense leaders, but also to collectively
start to, I like to say, change a criminal justice
narrative that frequently use poor people as less worthy
of the kinds of rights we expect for our loved
ones, and as a result, frequently disrespects
the lawyers who are tasked with
representing those people. So I have to say, John, it’s
good to meet you online, because I do quite a bit of work
with some of the folks you work with in Louisiana, we work
with the offices in Lafayette, New Orleans, St.
Tammany, New Iberia– I know you have your work
cut out for you there. I also have to say
thanks to this initiative and particularly Kim Ball,
who I think is frequently the one person running
around the country making sure that she talks
about public defenders whenever there is a criminal
justice conversation going on. I think that Kim has
committed herself to that and I’m hoping that collectively
through this initiative we can spark more
people to do the same. So I really want to start off
by sort of saying that I believe that over the last
year-and-a-half, the nation has really sort of
finally awakened to a reality that I think many of us
have realized but we’ve been in a very small minority, and
that reality is that equal justice in America is really
illusory, it is really– justice is often determined
by income, often determined by race, and I think that
realization has struck us as a nation through
a series of highly publicized and tragic encounters
between police and citizens. Encounters that have been
taped, encounters that have gone viral, starting with– let’s see if I can move this– can I move it? Nope. Nope. I’m trying to change
the page and I– oh, here it is. So starting with
up in the upper– my left-hand corner, Michael
Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. And then going on to Eric Garner
in New York, 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland,
Ohio, Walter Scott in North Charleston,
Freddie Gray in Baltimore– and I’m actually
in Baltimore today working with public
defenders here. Samuel DuBose out of Cincinnati,
Sandra Bland in Texas. There was sort of a
year of it almost seemed like constant examples
of African-American men and some women
dying in the streets at the hands of a criminal
justice system that seemed to not care
equally about people, and I think communities started
to raise their voice and say, we don’t feel like the
part of the system. These incidents have sort
of continued more recently. We have had just this
year a lot of talk about Laquan McDonald
in Chicago, Jamar Clark in Minneapolis. Just within the last couple of
weeks, two more shooting that killed Denton
outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, Gregory Gunn
down in Montgomery, Alabama. And I think all of these
really have awakened the nation to this reality, but
what I frequently like to say is that
for every person who dies in an encounter
with a police officer, there are tens of thousands who
are arrested, they are dumped into a criminal justice
system where they have a public defender who
maybe who may be heroic, who may be noble, but who
is overwhelmed, beaten down, burned out, under-resourced,
simply incapable of giving every client the
representation our constitution demands. And those people are
processed through the system into prison cells. If they get out,
many of them will not be able to return
to their homes, they won’t be able to
return to their jobs, they won’t be able to
vote, they won’t be able to get educational loans. So what I frequently
like to say is, it is this routine injustice
that is not yet made the rounds on social media. That is wreaking far more havoc
on our poorest communities than these tragic but
relatively infrequent instances of more
extreme abuses. And it’s this routine
injustice, I believe, that is only addressed
when we fund and support public defenders. Public defenders
speak for roughly 80% of the people in the
criminal justice system. And the extent to which
marginalized communities have a voice during this
process of routine injustice all depends on our commitment
to funding and supporting public defense. So I actually started my career
in a relatively privileged public defender office. I started in Washington,
DC, and for those of you know the DC Public
Defender Service, it has been a model public
defender office in the country. Not because the
lawyers are any better, but because it is
relatively well-resourced, they have a mechanism to
maintain manageable caseloads. I don’t think that
poor people in DC get more than the
Constitution deserves, I think it’s just that DC is
one of the few offices that is able to provide every person
what the Constitution demands. And I spent 10 years
as a public defender in DC, ultimately the
training director. Before leaving to move to
Georgia to help with the effort to build a statewide public
defender system in Georgia, two years after I came to
Georgia I went to New Orleans to help with the effort to
rebuild that public defender office in the wake
of Hurricane Katrina. And when I first
moved to the South, I started studying indigent
defense, the indigent defense crisis. I really found that people
talked about the crisis sort of– the problems in two categories. The first was financial–
clearly we need more resources. And the second was structural. There’s still in many
parts of this country, judges have a lot to say about
who the public defenders are, either through
directly appointing court-appointed counsel
or having influence over the boards that
hire public defenders, but frequently there are
conflicts that public defenders face where they
don’t want to push too hard against the people
who ultimately determine whether they’re
working tomorrow. And so there were financial
and structural challenges that we frequently discussed. But what I found as
I started working in Georgia and Louisiana
and Alabama and Mississippi was that there was a
third challenge that wasn’t talked about. And that challenge was culture. The lack of funding, the
crushing caseloads, the lack of respect for the position
actually created a culture where we had come to accept
a lower standard of justice for poor people. And I would meet these amazingly
passionate young lawyers who would come into this work
for all the right reasons, and within a short
period of time they had that passion beaten out
of them, and they either quit or they became resigned
to the status quo. This is one of my
favorite paintings I just wanted to share with you. It’s simply captioned
“Indifference” by an artist named Frank Wu. And the message is really very
simple with these robotic legs walking past a homeless veteran
crawled up in a fetal position, and the message
is that all of us are bombarded every day
by so much misery, so much poverty, so much injustice,
that it’s simply human nature, it’s a defense
mechanism that we all have to sort of become
desensitized to it, to walk past it. And I was reminded
of this not long ago. I got an 11-year-old
daughter, and ever since she was about five, she was the
biggest homeless advocate I’d ever known. And she would break open her
piggy bank in the morning and take her change
and put it in a baggie to give to the homeless man
on the off-ramp on the way to school. And one day we were
walking down the street and a man said to me, excuse
me, sir, can you spare a dollar? And I said, I’m sorry,
sorry, I can’t help you, and I kept walking. And I felt this tug on my
sleeve and I looked down and it’s my daughter. And she said, Daddy,
and I said, yeah, baby? She said, Daddy,
doesn’t that man need a dollar more than you? And I thought to myself,
of course he does. And then I thought,
where’d she learn this? And I thought, she learned
that from me, she learned that from her mother,
but all of us can forget the values we hold
dearest, the very values we teach our own
children if we don’t guard against indifference. It doesn’t make
us bad people, it makes us human beings in
a really difficult world. And so I share this
picture with you. At first blush you might
say, what does that have to do with public defenders? I think it has everything
to do with public defenders. Because I’ve worked with public
defenders across this country, and they go into courtrooms
across this country, and in any courtroom in
America, you can walk in and you will find lawyers who
care, who came to this work for the right reasons. But they are subjected to such
crushing caseloads and so much injustice, that after a while
they start to accept shortcuts. Maybe they don’t
file that motion that they think might
get the judge mad, or if they’re
overwhelmed, they’ll take it out on their clients
and maybe call them stupid or something like that, and
it becomes a slippery slope before you start to
become indifferent. And the end result
of that process is illustrated in
this video clip. And I’ve got to apologize
because the volume is really low, so we’re going to try. Before you start it,
though, let me just give a little background. And if the volume is too
soft, we’ll turn it off and I’ll just
summarize it for you. But you’re about to
see a man who was– he’s elected by the other
public defenders in Tennessee to be their spokesperson. He is the president
of the public defender committee in Tennessee,
elected by all the other public defenders. He’s been doing
this for 30 years, and he is representing
the public defenders at a budget hearing, and he’s
asked a very simple question– do you have enough resources? And this is his answer
if we can play the video. Are we able to get the video? GENEVIEVE CITRIN: Give
me just one second, Jon, I’m going to pull it up. JON RAPPING: Sure, sure. SPEAKER 1: I
probably am blessed. There is– I’ll just say this. You all probably get up
here and you always are– SPEAKER 2: [INAUDIBLE] SPEAKER 1: –district
[INAUDIBLE].. I think. Assuming all this
redistricting stuff and nothing happens, I think I have
enough [INAUDIBLE] caseload that I have. I have a five-county district. I have an attorney
for each county. What I have done is burdened one
of my investigators [INAUDIBLE] cover all the courts. And I have one investigator
[AUDIO OUT] [? district. ?] And our caseload, it would
be about 4,000 cases a year. I have been blessed with
retention of my staff. It means I have [AUDIO OUT]
really helps a lot in being able to process cases. [INAUDIBLE] a lot of cases. [AUDIO OUT] –more efficient. I think I have a great
staff, great [INAUDIBLE].. I have [INAUDIBLE]. JON RAPPING: Preeti, that’s
good if you want to stop it, or Genevieve. OK. Can everyone hear me again? GENEVIEVE CITRIN:
We can hear you. JON RAPPING: OK, thanks. So that video, I watched
that and I think to myself, here’s a man who says I
have five offices or five courthouses that I cover
and I have five lawyers and we closed last year 4,000
cases– that’s 800 cases a lawyer. And then goes on to
say he’s blessed, and he talks about how
his lawyers are efficient, that they’re good at
processing people. And I think to myself,
I’m sure that man did not come out of law school 30
years ago and say to himself, you know what I want
to do with my life? I want to help process
800 people a year into prison cells. I think he was shaped
by a system that has lost sight of justice. And I don’t think he’s any
weaker or worse than any of us. It can happen to any
of us if we don’t guard against Indifference This book– if you haven’t
read, it I really recommend it– by Amy Bach who is a
journalist and a lawyer. And she went around the country
examining criminal justice systems and came
to the conclusion that injustice in courtrooms
across this country has really become the
norm, that it is ordinary, that ordinary injustice
actually defines criminal justice in America. And she has an opening
passage where she says, ordinary injustice
occurs when a community of legal professionals have come
to accept lapses in the system. They become so used to
lapses in the system that they lose sight of their
own role in perpetuating them. And I think that
is a culture that has developed where frequently
you can go into a courtroom and you will see people
getting representation that we would not tolerate
for our loved ones, but judges and
prosecutors and defenders have come to accept it as
the way things are done, and that is a culture that
I think we need to change. So if you look at the
gentleman from Tennessee, what I like to say is
that we could give him all of the money in
the world, and we can restructure his office. But given his mindset,
given how his assumptions have been shaped
by the system, he would probably leave at
noon because he believes what he’s doing is good
work, and if we don’t take on this challenge of
culture, we will not really have meaningful indigent defense
or criminal justice reform. In 1963– you all know
that’s Clarence Earl Gideon– the Supreme Court said in
Gideon versus Wainwright that the lawyer is the vehicle
necessary to ensure justice, that no layperson can maneuver
a complicated system of law and procedure without a lawyer. And although the
Court didn’t say it, because I think the Court
believed it was implicit, if we believe in equal
justice, which is what Gideon versus Wainwright was all
about, then what kind of lawyer are poor people entitled to? Well, they’re entitled to
the same kind of lawyer that folks with
means would pay for. But yet 53 years later,
we see that that’s not at all the case. We have strayed so far
from the promise of Gideon, and we’ve strayed
from it to the point that I think this ad, which
I’m going to ask you to start in a second, illustrates it. This is an advertisement
run against a candidate for governor in South
Carolina actually attacking his credentials
as a defense lawyer. So far from the ideal of Gideon,
holding defense lawyers up as the heroes of the
criminal justice system, the engines that drive justice. This is more along
the lines or how we view the defense
function today, if we could play this video. SPEAKER 3: [INAUDIBLE] JON RAPPING: So with that
image of the defense lawyer, it becomes very hard to
rally support and resources for defense lawyers who don’t
just represent people accused of crimes, but represent the
most vilified people accused of crimes– poor people. And that extends
to popular culture. If you think about Law & Order,
which is the longest-running TV drama series to date, remember
the intro to Law & Order. “In the criminal justice
system, the people are represented by two separate,
yet equally important groups– the police who investigate
crime and the district attorneys who prosecute
the offenders. These are their stories.” Dun dun. Right? You all remember that. Literally, where are
the public defenders? They are rendered irrelevant
in today’s criminal justice narrative. Not necessary in the process
from arrest to incarceration. And that really is
what I think we are up against in this campaign. I am a huge fan of the
Brennan Center for Justice. I think there are a
great ally in this fight to reform criminal justice. Last year they put out a
document called Solutions– American Leaders Speak
Out on Criminal Justice, and they invited 22
leaders across the country to opine on how we can fix
our criminal justice system. And these 22 leaders included– they included some current
presidential candidates. They included Ted Cruz,
Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, some of the biggest
names in politics and criminal justice reform. 22 chapters. 164 pages. Once was the word “public
defender” even written, and that was in a chapter
by Joe Biden where it was sort of a
throwaway, where he said he served in
communities as a public defender and for 36 years as
Delaware senator. But literally no one thought
to discuss public defenders as part of the solution to
the criminal justice crisis. And again, it’s
not that these are folks who aren’t as committed
to criminal justice reform as we are, it’s
that unfortunately, without even realizing it, we
have all embraced a narrative where public defenders
simply are not nearly as important as
they were envisioned 53 years ago in Gideon. And so I am thankful
to this campaign because I think it
is badly needed, and I think we need
to think about how to talk about public
defenders as a critical engine to criminal justice reform. We need to refine our messaging
so that we can move people to understand that,
and I think only by doing that will we have
meaningful criminal justice reform. And so while I can
speak for this on hours, I’ve already taken more
time than I was allotted, I am going to wrap up here and
just say thank you so much, it’s great to be a
part of this group. GENEVIEVE CITRIN: Great. Thank you so much for bringing
the cultural aspect to light, that was really wonderful. So I know we are
running short on time. I do want to quickly pause
here to see if anyone has any comments or questions
for Jon at this time because I also know that
he needs to run shortly. So if anyone has any
comments or questions, please use the Q&A box
or raise your hand and we will call on you. All right. Without further ado then,
I guess I will keep going. So you ended talking
about messaging and that’s a great segue into
our marketing research update. The campaign has recently
signed a contract with Belden Russonello
Strategists, BRS. And they’re going to begin
with conducting fixed focus groups, two in
each city, and they are going to be held in
Houston, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; and Richmond, Virginia. And focus groups will be held
during the month of April and we plan on
presenting the findings of our next quarterly webinar. As part of this portion
of the initiative as well, we’re going to form a
marketing research steering committee comprised
of practitioners in the field from various
criminal justice sectors to help design the process. Additionally, the
focus group results will guide into opinion
polling survey which will also be conducted by
BRS, and we’ll use that to help us frame our
larger messaging campaign. So anyone who has any
questions on that, please feel free to raise your hand
or submit a question via Q&A. And I am also just going to
interview Ivan Dominguez, who’s the director of public
affairs and communications at the National Association
of Criminal Defense Lawyers. And prior to joining
NACDL in 2008, he practiced law for over
a decade in New York City. We’re really excited that
we’ve brought Ivan and his team on-board to be part of our
Right to Counsel social media strategy. They took over the
outreach in January and we have just been doing– getting a lot of really positive
feedback in that regard, and we are just very
excited to have them. So Ivan, I will turn it
over to you to take over. IVAN DOMINGUEZ: Great. Hi, everyone, this
is Ivan Dominguez. What terrific presentations
this afternoon. I will make this brief,
I know we’ve just crossed over the 3 o’clock point. But I do want to
say that it’s really an honor for me personally and
professionally and for NACDL to be involved with this truly,
truly important campaign, and to work with
Genevieve and Preeti and Caroline in the AU Justice
Programs Office and with Kim at BJA. Also on the call is my
colleague, Ezra Dunkle-Polier who, among many,
many talents, is a zen master of social media. If you are following
the campaign on Twitter or Facebook, you
will see how good he is at engagement
on those platforms, and we are both as a
team quite committed to the success of this project. What you see on the
slide is the handle for Twitter for
the campaign, which I would be ever so grateful
if you would do everything that you can to share
that handle and get people to follow it on Twitter–
the same with Facebook. When you post on social media
in any context and it relates to this important issue of the
Right to Counsel please use #Right2Counsel– the number 2– #Right2Counsel. The social media is
something that Ezra and I were working on as well as
maintaining the website, which is the web address is at the
bottom center of the screen, RTCNationalCampaign.org. We have grown substantially
the materials that are on there and continue to do so, so it’s
good to keep checking back. You’ll find that
we’ve aggregated a whole variety of resources
on our Resource page with links to
various organizations and their resources,
publications, we have a news feed, we
are caching the newsletters beginning with the
first newsletter that was issued at the
end of February on our Newsletters page
that’s in the dropdown menu under News. And obviously we
have an Events page. We strongly encourage you– my email addresses
[email protected], also on this slide– strongly, strongly
encourage you, if you have thoughts
about news stories, you have ideas about
publications or resources, you have an event that your
organization is putting together, and in
particular, we’re very interested in events
that are open to the public and don’t have fees associated
with them so that we can maximize the reach,
please send them our way and we will get them
up on the website, we’ll share them on the
social media platforms. And anything that you can do
to help take these social media platforms and the website and
get more people looking at them and following them,
the more reach we will have as we develop
messaging through the focus groups and market
survey research that’s going to be done with BRS. And I look forward to
working with you all and encourage you all to reach
out to me with any suggestions, any ideas, and thank you. GENEVIEVE CITRIN: Great,
thank you so much, Ivan. I just really want to
reiterate what he said. Please follow us on Twitter and
Facebook and use our hashtag. And also, please
reach out to any of us if you have any ideas
or comments or concerns about this campaign. We’re made up of our
Consortium members, and so we really wanted this to
be cooperative campaign where we’re all working together
to promote public defense. And so with that,
I’m going to conclude [INAUDIBLE] for this hour. And I know that we’re a
little bit over 03:00, but I also want to give everyone
an opportunity to share any updates or raise any questions
or concerns that you might have at this time. PREETI MENON: Hi
Genevieve, it’s Preeti. I just wanted to– can you hear me? GENEVIEVE CITRIN: Yes, we can
hear you, Preeti, thank you. PREETI MENON: I just
wanted to also ask everyone to please let us
know if you have any updates that you like to present on
for the next quarterly webinar. Please reach out to us and
we can get you on the agenda. Thank you. GENEVIEVE CITRIN:
All right, great. Well, if no one has
anything else to add, I’ll conclude this webinar. Thank you so much,
everyone, for participating

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