The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia

The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia Champions of Liberty! It is the mission of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) to provide and promote quality legal representation to indigent adults and children facing a loss of liberty in the District of Columbia, thereby protecting society's interest in the fair administration of justice.
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Operating as usual

Check out this article about PDS alumnus Johnathan Rapping (Gideon's Promise) and his thinking on the importance of trai...
02/16/2021
The Problems With Public Defense Are Big, But They’re Fixable ❧ Current Affairs

Check out this article about PDS alumnus Johnathan Rapping (Gideon's Promise) and his thinking on the importance of training and culture change for public defenders.

“A well-trained public defender must be supported by an office which values client service and aggressive defense, rather than one which is focused on pleasing judges or prosecutors. That office of public defenders must then act in concert to beat back the powerful courthouse culture of stripping people of their humanity so that they can be locked in cages, without consideration of how this violence shatters not only lives but communities."

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2021/02/the-problems-with-public-defense-are-big-but-theyre-fixable

When a young lawyer applies for a law license, she must give over a huge amount of information on her “character and fitness” to practice law. In some states, this Kafkaesque process involves requiring the applicant to submit a signed affidavit from each of her prior employers. It is for this re...

Congratulations to PDS alumni Premal Dharia and Andrew Crespo on their co-leadership of The Institute to End Mass Incarc...
02/11/2021
Premal Dharia joins Harvard Law School as inaugural executive director of the Institute to End Mass Incarceration - Harvard Law Today

Congratulations to PDS alumni Premal Dharia and Andrew Crespo on their co-leadership of The Institute to End Mass Incarceration at Harvard Law School. #publicdefender

https://today.law.harvard.edu/premal-dharia-joins-harvard-law-school-as-inaugural-executive-director-of-the-institute-to-end-mass-incarceration/

Premal Dharia, founder and director of the Defender Impact Initiative, is joining Harvard Law School as the inaugural executive director of the Institute to End Mass Incarceration.

PDS is a member of the District OF COLUMBIA’S Task Force on Jails and Justice, which is facilitated by the Council for C...
02/11/2021
Join CCE on February 11 at 11 am for the District Task Force on Jails & Justice's virtual Phase II report launch event! - - CCE Council for Court Excellence

PDS is a member of the District OF COLUMBIA’S Task Force on Jails and Justice, which is facilitated by the Council for Court Excellence. THE TASK FORCE is hosting a press conference TODAY AT 11 a.m. to discuss RECOMMENDATIONS from ITS JUST-ISSUED report, Jails & Justice: Our Transformation Starts Today - Phase II Findings and Implementation Plan.

http://www.courtexcellence.org/news-events/join-cce-as-the-district-task-force-of-jails-justice-releases-an-ambitious-plan-to-transform-d-c-undefineds-criminal-justice-system

#TransformDCjustice

On Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 11 am, the District Task Force on Jails & Justice (Task Force), facilitated by the Council for Court Excellence, is hosting a virtual launch event to discuss findings and recommendations from its new Phase II report D.C. Jails & Justice: Our Transformation Starts ...

PDS is #hiring investigative specialists! This position works in concert with legal defense counsel to investigate alleg...
02/08/2021
Job Opportunity Listing

PDS is #hiring investigative specialists! This position works in concert with legal defense counsel to investigate allegations of suspected violations of criminal statutes and possible defenses to those allegations. #publicdefender #PublicInterest #collegestudent #universitystudent

https://www.pdsdc.org/careers/job-opportunities/job-opportunity-listing/investigative-specialist---pds-2021-05

This vacancy is open to US Citizens or those authorized to work in the United States as of the opening date listed on this vacancy announcement.

02/08/2021

PDS is #hiring! Permanent and temporary attorney positions are available. Join our talented team of lawyers, who provide outstanding legal representation for people of low income/ low wealth. For more information, visit: https://www.pdsdc.org/careers/job-opportunities.

#publicdefender #lawyers #attorneys

PDS alumni and staff, don’t forget to RSVP to attend this Saturday evening’s virtual 60th PDS Anniversary Celebration!  ...
01/26/2021

PDS alumni and staff, don’t forget to RSVP to attend this Saturday evening’s virtual 60th PDS Anniversary Celebration! For more information, contact Pam Henderson.

Former PDS Director Angela J. Davis, distinguished Professor of Law at the American University Washington College of Law...
01/13/2021

Former PDS Director Angela J. Davis, distinguished Professor of Law at the American University Washington College of Law, will be honored with the Gwac Bar's 33rd annual Charlotte E. Ray Award in February. Congratulations, Angela!

The summer law clerkship application deadline has been extended to Friday, January 15, 2021!
12/21/2020
Job Opportunity Listing

The summer law clerkship application deadline has been extended to Friday, January 15, 2021!

#publicdefender #pdsdc #washingtonian #toplawyers
12/02/2020

#publicdefender #pdsdc #washingtonian #toplawyers

PDS has issued a 2020 CPI Manual Case Supplement to its nationally recognized Criminal Practice Institute Manual, which ...
11/17/2020

PDS has issued a 2020 CPI Manual Case Supplement to its nationally recognized Criminal Practice Institute Manual, which is considered the only comprehensive primer on the criminal law in the District of Columbia. The supplement includes cases through October 2020. #publicdefender

https://www.pdsdc.org/professional-resources/publications-legal-resources

“Because of the pandemic, this group of people has been stuck at the DC jail, with no opportunity to challenge their imp...
11/16/2020
Public Defenders In D.C. Say The U.S. Parole Commission Is Keeping Too Many People Jailed During The Pandemic | DCist

“Because of the pandemic, this group of people has been stuck at the DC jail, with no opportunity to challenge their imprisonment,...” says Rashida Edmonson, acting chief of the PDS Parole Division. #publicdefender #dcparole

https://dcist.com/story/20/11/16/us-parole-commission-dc-jail-coronavirus-covid19-pandemic/

At the start of the pandemic, the U.S. Parole Commission started arresting fewer people for violations. Now, defense attorneys say the number of new warrants is rising.

Congratulations to Chiquisha Robinson, Deputy Chief of PDS’s Prisoner & Reentry Legal Services Program, on her groundbre...
11/02/2020
Defense Attorneys Are the Best Line of Defense Against the COVID-19 Pandemic for Incarcerated People

Congratulations to Chiquisha Robinson, Deputy Chief of PDS’s Prisoner & Reentry Legal Services Program, on her groundbreaking article “Defense Attorneys Are the Best Line of Defense Against the COVID-19 Pandemic for Incarcerated People” in the ABA’s Fall Criminal Justice Magazine. Chiquisha says, “Lawyering during these unprecedented times requires creativity, empathy, and perseverance. Attorneys should feel empowered to find new ways to advocate for their clients and use these recommendations as a foundation for their efforts.” Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of PDS. #publicdefender

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/criminal_justice/publications/criminal-justice-magazine/2020/fall/defense-attorneys-best-line-defense-against-covid-19-pandemic-incarcerated-people/

Defense attorneys and criminal justice stakeholders will be armed with valuable information and practice tips to monitor and advocate for incarcerated individuals in prisons and jails during COVID-19.

PDS has established a PROTEST HOTLINE -- (202) 824-2463 -- available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. All calls to the ...
10/26/2020

PDS has established a PROTEST HOTLINE -- (202) 824-2463 -- available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. All calls to the Protest Hotline for legal advice are confidential and free of charge. #publicdefender #DCProtests

For more information visit: https://www.pdsdc.org/need-legal-advice/pds-protest-hotline.

Don't wait! Apply today to be a part of this dynamic internship experience with The Public Defender Service for DC. Spri...
10/14/2020

Don't wait! Apply today to be a part of this dynamic internship experience with The Public Defender Service for DC. Spring & Summer 2021 Applications are open now!

Spend your internship in the District of Columbia community, meeting with clients, and feeling the thrill of representing clients in court. We offer a unique learning experience that can both prepare you for graduate-level work and provide you with the experience necessary for employment in any field.

CLIP has been described by The Washington Post as one of the finest pre-law experiences available, and the Princeton Review ranked the program as one of the most hands-on internship programs in the nation, stating that the program is "a criminal law internship at its in-your-face best."

Apply online at www.pdsdc.org. Click on the “Join Our Team” Bubble in the middle of the page, and then select Criminal Law Internship Program. When you select “Apply to CLIP”, you will need to register (create) a profile to submit your application. For questions regarding the program or the application process, please email [email protected].

PDS alumna April Frazier Camara is the new Chair of the ABA's Criminal Justice Section.  We look forward to your leaders...
08/10/2020

PDS alumna April Frazier Camara is the new Chair of the ABA's Criminal Justice Section. We look forward to your leadership, April!

Congratulations to BPDA Co-founder and Chair April Frazier Camara as she begins her new role as the 2020-2021 ABA Criminal Justice Section Chair!

"In the upcoming year, the Criminal Justice Section will confront America’s painful history of racism in the criminal legal system. We will carefully examine how race plays a role in every facet of the criminal legal system, from its design to its current function.

This work is required to move America away from silence and toward reconciliation, and the ABA Criminal Justice Section will model the way as a leader in advancing racial equity in the criminal legal system."

Read her first Chair's Message: http://ow.ly/xnNk50AT0ku.

#Apply for a law clerkship with us! We have clerkships available for spring 2021 and for the New York Bar Pro Bono Schol...
08/06/2020
Job Opportunities

#Apply for a law clerkship with us! We have clerkships available for spring 2021 and for the New York Bar Pro Bono Scholars program.

https://www.pdsdc.org/careers/job-opportunities

#lawstudent #lawclerk #publicdefender

The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) is a federally funded, independent organization; governed by an eleven-member Board of Trustees, PDS provides legal representation to individuals facing a loss of freedom in the local criminal, delinquency, and mental health systems in t...

“My name is Brittney Scott and I am a rising 3L at @howardlawschool . This summer, I had the opportunity to serve as a l...
07/30/2020

“My name is Brittney Scott and I am a rising 3L at @howardlawschool . This summer, I had the opportunity to serve as a law clerk in the Juvenile Services Program ("JSP"), which is a subdivision of the Community Defender Division (“CDD”) at PDS. Although Covid-19 presented the challenge of moving this client-based program online, the experience was truly amazing and exceeded my expectations. In having an interest in juvenile defense, I was very excited to join the JSP team and was able to strengthen my oral advocacy and problem-solving skills. Participating in the mock disciplinary hearings before Judge Thomas served as one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences of my clerkship because it taught me how to be more assertive, helped me to improve my public speaking skills, and how to think quickly on my feet. We, the JSP law clerks, also had the opportunity to create a ‘Know Your Rights’ curriculum to present to the youths in the Summer Youth Employment Program (“SYEP”). Further, the assigned research projects contributed to my understanding of the systemic mistreatment of D.C.’s securely detained youth and allowed me to be a part of the solution. All-in-all, I am thankful that Covid-19 did not cancel my summer at PDS and glad to have gotten to experience firsthand what it takes to be a phenomenal public defender—and not just an ordinary one. Having received training from some of the best criminal defense attorneys was distinctly gratifying, and I look forward to pursuing a career as a public defender.”

Thank you for your dedication and commitment to our clients, Brittney!

#publicdefender #lawclerk #clerkship #lawstudent

“I’m Mallorie Urban, a rising 3L at Stanford Law. I’ve wanted to be a public defender since before starting law school, ...
07/29/2020

“I’m Mallorie Urban, a rising 3L at Stanford Law. I’ve wanted to be a public defender since before starting law school, and interning at PDS has only confirmed the value of this work, both for me personally and for our nation more broadly. While the COVID-19 pandemic has posed unique challenges for our clients, the recent nationwide momentum toward police reform has created unique opportunities for public defenders. In addition to composing Compassionate Release motions and researching other COVID-19 related issues, I’ve had the pleasure of working with skilled, passionate lawyers on novel issues regarding race and police misconduct. I’ve been inspired by the activism and radical leadership I’ve seen in both my fellow interns and my supervising attorneys, despite the collective uncertainty and unrest we are all facing. I look forward to using the skills I’ve gained and honed at PDS to continue to fight for indigent clients for many years to come.“

Thank you for your hard work and commitment to our clients, Mallorie!

#publicdefender #lawstudent #lawclerk #clerkship

“I’m Mallorie Urban, a rising 3L @stanfordlawschool . I’ve wanted to be a public defender since before starting law scho...
07/29/2020

“I’m Mallorie Urban, a rising 3L @stanfordlawschool . I’ve wanted to be a public defender since before starting law school, and interning at PDS has only confirmed the value of this work, both for me personally and for our nation more broadly. While the COVID-19 pandemic has posed unique challenges for our clients, the recent nationwide momentum toward police reform has created unique opportunities for public defenders. In addition to composing Compassionate Release motions and researching other COVID-19 related issues, I’ve had the pleasure of working with skilled, passionate lawyers on novel issues regarding race and police misconduct. I’ve been inspired by the activism and radical leadership I’ve seen in both my fellow interns and my supervising attorneys, despite the collective uncertainty and unrest we are all facing. I look forward to using the skills I’ve gained and honed at PDS to continue to fight for indigent clients for many years to come.“​

Thank you for your hard work and commitment to our clients, Mallorie!

#publicdefender #lawstudent #lawclerk #clerkship

“My name is Oluwadamilola Animashaun and I am a rising 3L at @howardlawschool . My time at the Public Defender Services ...
07/28/2020

“My name is Oluwadamilola Animashaun and I am a rising 3L at @howardlawschool . My time at the Public Defender Services for the District of Columbia (PDS), during the summer of 2020, has been one of the most rewarding internship experiences I've ever had. Working at PDS, reemphasized for me the notorious nature of the criminal injustice system, a system that vividly harms incarcerated individuals within the system and places herculean obstacles before them as they attempt to reintegrate back into society. Yet, at PDS Prisoner & Reentry Legal Service Program (PRLS), I had the privilege of working with a tenacious set of lawyers and colleagues who were passionate about representing convicted people in spite of the myriad of novel challenges presented during the global pandemic (COVID-19) from client confidentially to online communication. As a PRLS law clerk, I had the opportunity to provide dynamic and creative oral advocacy on behalf of clients at their disciplinary hearings. Additionally, I wrote client letters, completed legal research, and wrote compassionate release motions on behalf of our incarcerated clients who are more susceptible to COVID -19. All in all, this position has confirmed my convictions, I am going to be on the vanguard of defending and advocating in the interests of vulnerable populations.”

Thank you for sharing your summer clerkship experience with us, Oluwadamilola. We have enjoyed working with you!

#publicdefender #lawclerk #clerkship #lawstudent

Meet PDS summer law clerk Christine Lorica, a 2L at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and the 20...
07/27/2020

Meet PDS summer law clerk Christine Lorica, a 2L at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and the 2020 Robert E. Wone Fellow (https://www.aefdc.com/blog/aef-announces-the-2020-robert-e-wone-fellow-and-aef-public-interest-fellows):

“I am so happy to be at PDS this summer as a law clerk. I am working on special education litigation for juvenile clients, a new area of law for me but one that has completely captivated and inspired me as a former high school teacher. Making sure that schools support our clients is a perfect example of the innovative, holistic, and zealous approach to client advocacy at PDS. As part of my clerkship, I am in a Trial Practice Group where I get to hone my oral advocacy skills with some of the best trial attorneys in the country—it has been both incredibly invaluable and wildly fun. I am also grateful that PDS organized many informational panels related to public defense, PD offices in other cities, and other fellowship/employment opportunities for clerks to attend. This particular summer, even with the unique virtual environment brought on by COVID-19, indigent representation feels more important than ever. After walking with PDS in the Public Defenders March for Black Lives, I certainly feel a ‘new kind of inspired.’”

You have been a pleasure to work with, Christine!

#publicdefender #lawclerk #clerkship #lawstudent

Address

633 Indiana Ave NW
Washington D.C., DC
20004

The office is one block from the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro stop (Green and Yellow Lines).

General information

The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) provides and promotes quality legal representation to indigent adults and children facing a loss of liberty in the District of Columbia and thereby protects society’s interest in the fair administration of justice. PDS is a federally funded, independent organization, governed by an eleven-member Board of Trustees. The organization began in 1960 as the Legal Aid Agency (LAA), charged with providing legal representation for people unable to afford an attorney in judicial proceedings in the District of Columbia. In 1963, the Supreme Court’s decision in Gideon v. Wainwright recognized the constitutional right to an attorney for poor people charged with a crime and fueled the commitment for public defender services. Building on that momentum, LAA leadership crafted the 1970 statute that established PDS, broadened the mandate, and secured the apolitical role of the Board of Trustees, which preserved PDS’s autonomy. PDS’s exceptional advocacy and proven success through individualized and continuous client representation, comprehensive training, non-legal resources, effective management and administrative systems, involvement with the private and court-appointed defense system, and law reform resulted in the designation of PDS as an exemplary project and model for other jurisdictions in 1974 by the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration of the US Department of Justice. Since then, PDS has maintained the reputation as one of the best public defender offices in the country—local or federal. It has become the national standard-bearer and the benchmark by which other public defender systems often measure themselves. Due largely to effective advocacy by PDS leadership, the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997 (the “Revitalization Act”) and its 1998 Amendments established PDS as a federally funded, independent legal organization governed by an eleven-member Board of Trustees and preserved all programmatic aspects of the model public defender system. In the District, PDS and the DC courts share the responsibility for providing constitutionally mandated legal representation to people who cannot pay for their own attorney. Under the District’s Criminal Justice Act (CJA), the courts generally appoint PDS to the more serious, more complex, resource-intensive, and time-consuming criminal cases and juvenile delinquency cases. The courts assign the remaining cases, mainly the less serious cases and the majority of misdemeanor and traffic cases, to a panel of court-approved private attorneys (“CJA attorneys”). PDS attorneys also handle criminal appeals, almost all parole revocation hearings, most Drug Court sanction hearings, and represent people facing involuntary commitment in the mental health system, children with special education needs facing delinquency charges, and clients in civil proceedings that were triggered by their criminal charges or their incarceration. In addition, PDS offers training for its staff and other defense attorneys and investigators who represent those who cannot afford an attorney, and provides support to the DC Courts. PDS has also developed innovative approaches to representation, from addressing the problems clients encounter when returning to the community following incarceration to creating a one-of-a-kind electronic case tracking system.

Opening Hours

Monday 09:00 - 17:30
Tuesday 09:00 - 17:30
Wednesday 09:00 - 17:30
Thursday 09:00 - 17:30
Friday 09:00 - 17:30

Telephone

(202) 628-1200

Alerts

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Everyone deserves someone in their corner.

The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) provides and promotes quality legal representation to indigent adults and children facing a loss of liberty in the District of Columbia and thereby protects society's interest in the fair administration of justice.

A major portion of the work we do consists of representing individuals in the District of Columbia’s local criminal justice system who are charged with committing serious criminal acts and who are eligible for court-appointed counsel. In the District of Columbia, public defense services are primarily provided by PDS, the “institutional defender,” and by a panel of private attorneys, known as Criminal Justice Act (CJA) attorneys, who are screened for membership on the panel and paid on a case-by-case basis by the District of Columbia courts. Because of its resources, well-regarded training program, and overall skill level, PDS generally handles the more serious criminal cases, and the CJA attorneys generally handle the less serious criminal cases.

PDS attorneys represent indigent clients in the majority of the most serious adult felony cases filed in the District of Columbia Superior Court every year, clients pursuing or defending against criminal appeals, nearly all individuals facing parole revocation under the District of Columbia Code, and all defendants in the District of Columbia Superior Court requiring representation at Drug Court sanctions hearings. PDS also provides legal representation to people facing involuntary civil commitment in the mental health system, as well as to many of the indigent children in the most serious delinquency cases, including those who have special education needs due to learning disabilities.

In addition, PDS addresses the legal issues and barriers related to the successful community reentry of our clients. PDS also provides technical assistance to the local criminal justice system, training for CJA and pro bono attorneys, and additional legal services to indigent clients in accordance with PDS’s enabling statute (Pub. L. No. 91-358, Title III, § 301 (1970); see also D.C. Code §§ 2-1601 – 1608 (2001).).

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