This blog post introduces the NAPD’s Education Committee’s Reading Criminal Records Project.

For lawyers, admission to practice is by individual jurisdiction.  We become experts in the jurisdictions where we primarily represent our clients.  We understand the nuances of the local court system, the law, and our communities which profoundly influence our practice and advice to clients. However, our clients find themselves with problems outside our licensing jurisdictions impacting representation in our local jurisdiction.  Complicating the analysis of multi -jurisdictional interaction with the criminal justice system are the factors of as many variations on how crimes are classified, marked as disposed of and there are no standard classifications or dispositions descriptions across the country. 

This need to provide high quality representation addressing this multi jurisdiction records interpretation problem led to the creation of Reading Criminal Records Project, a project of the NAPD Education Committee.  The project links any member of NAPD with, at a minimum, a link to information about how to obtain criminal history information in any state or federal jurisdiction.  Where defenders have volunteered to help, link any member to a lawyer via email in the specific jurisdiction who can help interpret the other jurisdictions’ criminal history.  This allows the requesting lawyer to provide accurate advice to the client about the impact of another jurisdiction’s criminal dispositions on a pending case.   In the spirit of NAPD’s mission to connect defenders everywhere with each other as Tim Young described so well  in his October 29 blog post, “NAPD: A Reflection on 5 Years,” this project began and took flight. NAPD’s wonderful community of people who want to provide high quality representation across the board stepped up and volunteered to help other defenders.  Volunteers responded to the call within 15 minutes of it going out via email over the Leadership listserv.  If you want to help, email me at  Thank you to all of you.  Join us on December 10 at 12:00 p.m. E.S.T. for a webinar about the Reading Criminal Records Project. 

The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not the Georgia Public Defender Council.