Happy 4th of July!

Today we celebrate the triumph of individual liberty over tyranny. Ours is a proud history that understands that unless checked, government has the tendency to oppress those it is supposed to serve. Our founding fathers created important protections to serve as a buffer between the individual and the power of the Government. Nowhere is the threat to individual life and liberty greater than in the criminal justice system where, without these protections, a mere accusation can remove you from your family and community and land you in a prison cell.

The public defender is the one person whose duty-bound to stand between the individual and the power of the state. It is through the public defender that the most vulnerable among us have a chance to realize justice. While we have a proud history to be celebrated, we also must never forget that our history also includes tragic instances of an unchecked government visiting terrible injustice on its people. The need for a defender of the individual, particularly in the criminal justice system, has never been greater.

So today I raise a glass to our nation's public defenders – a committed, passionate group of soldiers who fight against injustice every day, against overwhelming odds, in a system that has lost sight of the humanity of those it prosecutes. They toil in a system that defines how close we are to meeting our highest ideals by the way it treats the people in it. They come home very day feeling battered, defeated, and disrespected. But they need to know that they are making great sacrifices to help us hold onto that which defines us as a country.

There is no definition of patriotism more American than standing up for those principles our country is based on against the government when it starts to deviate from those ideals. To all the patriots out there, and especially our public defenders….Happy 4th of July!