It’s almost National Public Defender Day/Week! On Monday, March 18th, we will acknowledge the 56th anniversary of the landmark decision Gideon v. Wainwright and, as usual, we expect that this will be a mix of celebrating some wins (like dedicated staff, rockstar clients, trial victories, community building, systemic change, etc.) and lamenting what’s still left to fix (excessive workloads, institutional racism, crushing fines and fees, ridiculous lack of parity, etc.). We don’t have much formally planned this year but we encourage you to take advantage of the day or week in your own office by doing a little well-deserved celebrating and outreach.
While there’s not a formal program, our theme for this Public Defender Day/Week echoes what you may have seen on some of our awesome t-shirts at our live trainings this year: “There’s No Justice Without Us”. We have created two different FB banners (choose one) to use during the week. There is a place to insert your office logo if you would like –be in touch with NAPD for more info!
In any social media work this day/week, please use the following tags:
We have drafted a guest opinion piece that we would be happy to co-submit, or allow you to adapt and submit on your own. Our draft has the theme of “no justice without us” but we encourage you to draft your own piece along themes that suit your office. Be in touch if you’re interested in making a media submission!
Narrowly, the “us” is public defenders, but this National Public Defender Day, NAPD is partnering with Gideon’s Promise and Silicon Valley De-Bug, along with the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office in Norristown, PA to livestream videos from established court-watching programs in “participatory hubs” where the community and the public defender office work together to observe court and advocate for reforms. More expansively, the “us” that justice requires is the larger community that we serve – both the accused and the public. The participatory hubs in Norristown and Philadelphia (PA), Nashville and Knoxville (TN), Santa Clara, Contra Costa and San Mateo (CA) and Boston (MA) have long-standing court watching programs. They plan to be in court on Monday and filming their observations alongside public defenders. Please check out the social media pages for these public defender offices and share! We will be keeping up on our FB page and Twitter feed.
NAPD hopes to use this day to launch a campaign to build more community investment in public defense. We will be creating a workspace on MyGideon with materials, and offering a series of webinars on how to build court-watching programs that are effective for achieving reform in your criminal courts system. If you have a court-watching program operating outside of the De-Bug Network, please be in touch. We’re stronger together and this is a chance to build community. With community, we can increase public perception of our value, and that will change the game.
As in years’ past, we are looking forward to seeing the ways you celebrate the right to counsel – your cakes, your stickers, your movie events, your post-work hang-out, your notes to staff and the community, to hear all the reasons you are here fighting the good fight-  and to meet so many advocates in our community who hold a shared set of values for justice and dignity and fairness in all our public institutions, and certainly in criminal courts. 
Please be in touch if you have any questions or concerns or new ideas you want to share! National Public Defender Day/Week is almost here!