The National Association for Public Defense (NAPD), in collaboration with DLA Piper, LLP, a global law firm with lawyers practicing in more than forty countries, filed a brief as amicus curiae in State of Illinois v. Cole (defendant) and Campanelli (contemnor-appellant) providing the Supreme Court of Illinois with practical suggestions for improving the standards governing the appointment of alternative counsel when a conflict of interest exists between public defenders and their indigent clients.

In Cole, the lower court held Amy Campanelli, the Public Defender of Cook County, personally in contempt of court because she  refused to allow her office to represent the sixth defendant in a six-defendant murder prosecution. Because the State of Illinois has not yet “adopted a formal statutory or judicial mechanism for addressing conflicts of interest arising in defense of the indigent,” the NAPD’s brief focused on providing practical advice to assist the Court in resolving this important issue.  Specifically, the NAPD offered “examples of the systems, methods, and practices that other jurisdictions have adopted to address conflicts of interest when they arise between public defenders and their clients,” and emphasized that, by adopting such practices, the Illinois Supreme Court would “improve the procedures for securing defendants’ Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel in Illinois in light of evolving best practices across the country.”

Adam Lamparello, Co-Chair of the National Association for Public Defense’s Amicus Committee, explained that “the NAPD’s brief provides principled and valuable guidance that it hopes will assist the Illinois Supreme Court in offering guidance to public defender offices when confronted with conflicts of interest involving indigent clients.” In so doing, Lamparello stated that the NAPD’s brief “can play an instrumental role in effectuating meaningful change to the standards governing conflicts of interest, and the appointment of alternative counsel, in these cases.”

The principal author of NAPD’s brief was Thomas F. Geselbracht, senior counsel at DLA Piper. In addition, Jennifer Kinsley, former co-chair of NAPD’s Amicus Committee and a professor of law at the Northern Kentucky Salmon P. Chase College of Law, along with student-members of the Bearcat Chapter of the NAPD at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, provided invaluable research and editing assistance.

Oral argument was held before the Illinois Supreme Court on September 12, 2017, during which NAPD’s amicus brief was referenced as authority. The argument can be watched at
DLA Piper.  DLA Piper is a multinational law firm located in more than thirty countries throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. DLA Piper’s clients range from multi-national, Global 1000 and Fortune 500 enterprises to emerging companies developing industry-leading technologies. DLA Piper also advises government and public sector bodies.

National Association for Public Defense. The National Association for Public Defense (NAPD) is an association of more than 16,000 professionals who deliver the right to counsel throughout all U.S. states and territories. NAPD members include attorneys, investigators, social workers, administrators and other support staff who are responsible for executing the constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel. NAPD members advocate in jails, in courtrooms, and communities and are experts in not only theoretical best practices, but also in the practical, day-to-day delivery of services. NAPD’s collective expertise represents state, county, and local systems through fulltime, contract, and assigned counsel delivery mechanisms, dedicated juvenile, capital and appellate offices, and through a diversity of traditional and holistic practice models.  NAPD provides webinar-based and other training to its members, among other litigation resources. For more on NAPD, visit: