Montgomery County (PA) Goes Big for Public Defense Week
This week our office celebrated National Public Defense Week in commemoration of the 54th Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright.
On Monday, March 13th,the Montgomery County Public Defender Office in partnership with the Montgomery County District Attorney and the Pennsylvania Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Youth/Law Enforcement Corporation, held its fourth Youth/Law Enforcement Forum, in Cheltenham Township. At this forum, police officers from the Cheltenham Township Police and over 50 students from Cheltenham High School came together to discuss each other’s views with the hope of reducing the number of volatile interactions between youth and officers on the street, decrease arrests of minority youth, and diminish the chance of injuries to officers and youth on the street. It was a powerful day of dialogue around the issues of race and policing. A photo of that event is attached.
On Friday, March 17th, we hosted a breakfast for our dedicated staff to thank them for their incredible work in representing our clients. We also presented the first Montgomery County Office of the Public Defender Herbert Morris Award Making The Difference Award. The late Herbert Morris worked with the Community Action Development Commission, the county’s lead anti-poverty agency for many years and was instrumental in designing and leading many community initiatives, many of which helped our clients. We presented this award to the late John "JB" Brooks, of HopeWorx. JB passed away last summer. JB played an integral role in developing and facilitating a peer-to-peer 14-week class for men with mental health and substance use issues incarcerated at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Eagleville. A photo is attached. The young man in that photo, is the Grandson of the late Herbert Morris. Keeping Herb’s dream of service alive!
Finally, our staff participated in a great photo series, writing about why they defend Montgomery County. This was a fun and inspirational project. We plan to put the entire series up on our Facebook.
We were really thrilled to take part in Public Defense Week and celebrate our incredible staff, and the individual and organizational partnerships that help us continue to be client and community centered. Montgomery County – REALIZING THE PROMISE OF GIDEON!
Furthermore, the office also worked with their local government for the following proclamation:
COUNTY OF MONTGOMERY
PUBLIC DEFENSE WEEK
MARCH 13-18, 2017
WHEREAS: In 1963 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright that citizens charged with a crime who cannot afford an attorney should have one provided to them; and
WHEREAS: In this ruling, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote of the “noble ideal” of the criminal justice system, which “cannot be realized if
the poor man charged with a crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him” ; and,
WHEREAS: March 18 marks the 54th anniversary of that ruling, and in that lime lawyers, investigators, social workers, and support staff have
worked tirelessly to uphold the noble ideal of which Justice Black wrote; and,
WHEREAS: The Montgomery County Public Defender Office has worked to provide essential legal services to those who would not otherwise have access to them, and has developed a prison liaison program, expanded the investigations division, and increased juvenile advocacy and adult system staff; and,
WHEREAS: The Public Defender Office defends not only its clients, but the rights set forth in the Constitution of the United States; and,
NOW THEREFORE: We, the Commissioners of Montgomery County, do hereby proclaim March 13 through March 18, 2017 as
And urge all Montgomery County residents to honor these men and women who work to provide justice for those who need it.
Valerie A. Arkoosh, MD, MPH, Chair
Kenneth Lawrence, Jr., Vice Chair
Joseph C. Gale, Commissioner