Director, Missouri Public Defender System (Columbia, MO)

A native New Yorker, Barrett worked as a public defender in Albany, New York before moving into the political arena. He went on to receive several appointments, under New York Governors Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson, to positions in criminal justice and public safety, where he implemented policies that helped further reduce the state crime rate, which lead to the closing of multiple prisons. Recently, he served as Deputy General Counsel to Governor Jeremiah (Jay) Nixon. He moved to Missouri in 2011, and later joined the Office of Governor Jay Nixon as Deputy General Counsel. Barrett worked in the Missouri governor’s administration for two years before accepting the position as General Counsel for the MO State Public Defender System. In May, Michael Barrett was sworn into office as the new director of Missouri’s State Public Defender System. He was selected for the top spot by the Public Defender Commission in March. Barrett assumes leadership of a department that, at just shy of 380 attorneys, is one of the largest law firms in the state. Support and operations staff bringing the total number of employees up to 567. Last year, the organization was assigned over 75,000 new cases, ranging from misdemeanor traffic offenses up to and including death penalty cases, appeals, and post-conviction matters.