Divisions

Central Administration

The following departments comprise ODS’ Central Administration: Executive, Administrative, Human Resources, Fiscal, Intake, Technology, and Training. Central Administration’s function is to provide oversight and support for both the Public Defender’s Office and the Office of Conflicts Counsel and ensure all indigent clients receive high quality legal services. Central Administration is also responsible for developing and implementing policies and procedures for ODS. Central Administration plans and conducts staff training and continuing legal education programming and handles all matters related to personnel, budget, and legal and ancillary services. Members of the Central Administration team are active in drafting legislation and advocating for criminal justice reform.

The Public Defender’s Office

The Public Defender’s Office (PDO) employs eighty-two skilled Assistant Public Defenders who average eighteen years of experience as practicing trial lawyers. Assistant Public Defenders are members of the Delaware Bar and members of local or national trial lawyers associations. The PDO also employs a full staff of investigators, secretaries, psycho-forensic evaluators, forensic nurses, and mitigation specialists who supplement the services of the lawyers. The office also provides and/or contracts for various defense related ancillary services, including mitigation and forensic assistance. We have offices in Wilmington, Dover, Georgetown, and at Delaware’s correctional facilities. The PDO was first established by statute in 1964 as a statewide agency. The PDO is charged with representing indigent people at every stage of the criminal or delinquency process in both adult and juvenile courts and is committed to providing high quality legal services to its clients. The PDO strives to achieve this goal every day through the superior representation provided by its dedicated attorneys and support staff. In addition to providing direct legal service, members of the office serve on various committees, task forces, and initiatives related to criminal and juvenile justice. Governor Jack Markell appointed Brendan O’Neill as Delaware’s third Public Defender in 2009. In 2015, Governor Markell re-appointed Mr. O’Neill for a second, six year term. Highlights of Mr. O’Neill’s tenure include the passage of Senate Bill 47 establishing the Office of Defense Services, implementing vertical representation in all felony cases, establishing a homicide defense unit, and developing a culture to defend every client, in every case, competently and aggressively.

The Office of Conflicts Counsel

The Office of Conflicts Counsel (OCC) represents indigent people when the Public Defender’s Office (PDO) cannot provide representation due to a conflict of interest. Like the PDO, the OCC is committed to providing high quality legal services to its clients and strives to achieve this every day. The OCC provides superior legal representation through a network of attorneys who are in private practice. These dedicated attorneys are located throughout Delaware in New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties. OCC attorneys represent adult and juvenile clients in the pre-trial, trial, and appellate phases of their cases in all Delaware trial and appellate courts. OCC attorneys access ancillary services such as investigators and experts through the Chief Conflicts Counsel.

The OCC was established as a separate entity in 2011. Prior to the formation of the OCC, Delaware’s conflicts program was managed by the Delaware courts.

For more information about the Office of Conflicts Counsel, you can access its website at http://conflictscounsel.delaware.gov/.

CURRENT LEADERSHIP 

CHIEF DEFENDER, OFFICE OF DEFENSE SERVICES

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O’Neill is the Chief Defender of the Office of Defense Services. He was appointed to this position by Governor Jack Markell in May 2009.

Mr. O’Neill has over thirty years of experience litigating criminal cases in state and federal courts. He started his legal career as a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles, California. He then served as an Assistant United States Attorney in Los Angeles. Mr. O’Neill left the United States Attorney’s Office to start his own law firm which specialized in criminal defense. Mr. O’Neill was a managing partner of this firm for fourteen years before he relocated to Delaware. In Delaware, Mr. O’Neill was a Deputy Attorney General in the civil division of the Delaware Attorney General’s Office. In 1995, Mr. O’Neill joined the Public Defender’s Office where he continued to litigate complex, felony cases in Delaware trial courts. He also served as the Chief of Legal Services for the office prior to being appointed as Chief Defender.

Mr. O’Neill is a graduate of Dartmouth College and he received his Juris Doctorate from the King Hall School of Law at the University of California-Davis. Mr. O’Neill has the distinguished honor of being a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. Mr. O’Neill further serves on the Executive Board of the Criminal Justice Council (CJC) and as the Chair of the CJC’s Byrne Grant Subcommittee.

 

Brendan O'Neill

CHIEF DEPUTY, PUBLIC DEFENDER'S OFFICE

Todd Conner

Todd E. Conner is the Chief Deputy of the Public Defender’s Office. He has held this position since 2009. Mr. Conner is responsible for the daily operations of the Public Defender’s Office and supervises approximately 120 employees statewide.

Mr. Conner is a graduate of Dickinson College and he received his Juris Doctorate from Widener University School of Law. He has been a member of the Delaware bar since 1991.

Mr. Conner began his legal career at the Public Defender’s Office in 1991. As an assistant public defender, he has represented clients in all state trial and appellate courts. In 2005, he became the supervising attorney of the New Castle County Superior Court unit. In this capacity, he was responsible for the supervision of all felony trial attorneys and he acted as a liaison between the office and the courts. He also represents the office on various criminal justice committees and initiatives.

 

Todd Conner

CHIEF CONFLICTS COUNSEL, OFFICE OF CONFLICTS

Stephanie Volturo

Stephanie Volturo is Chief Conflicts Counsel for the Office of Conflicts Counsel, a position she has held since the office was established in 2011. After graduating from law school, Ms. Volturo moved to California and began her career working in intellectual property law. However, her commitment to public service brought her to Delaware to earn a Master's Degree in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from the University of Delaware, and to begin her career in criminal defense and advocacy. Prior to joining the Office of Conflicts Counsel, she helped to administer the conflicts program as the staff attorney for the Administrative Office of the Courts and served as the Executive Director of SURJ, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reforming Delaware’s criminal justice system. Ms. Volturo is a graduate of Villanova University and received her J.D. from Temple University School of Law in 2000.


CHIEF OF LEGAL SERVICES, OFFICE OF DEFENSE SERVICES

Lisa Minutola

Ms. Minutola serves as the Chief of Legal Services for the Office of Defense Services. She assumed this role in 2009 after thirteen years of service with the Public Defender’s Office. Ms. Minutola has litigated cases in all state courts and she has also served as a supervising attorney in both the Court of Common Pleas and Family Court trial units. Ms. Minutola represents the office on various committees and task forces related to criminal and juvenile justice. She has been extremely active in the area of juvenile justice on both a local and national level. She regularly presents on topics in these area to various state agencies and at conferences. Ms. Minutola also acts as the legislative liaison for the office. She had drafted numerous bills and she routinely testifies at the state legislature on proposed legislation.

Ms. Minutola graduated cum laude from the University of Delaware and she received her Juris Doctorate from George Mason School of Law. She has been a member of the Delaware bar since 1995.

 

Lisa Minutola

2014 Top Workplaces in Delaware

For the fourth consecutive year, the Public Defender's Office was recognized as one of the top workplaces in Delaware. These results were published in the Delaware News Journal’s 2014 Top Workplaces in Delaware. The winning organizations were selected based on voluntary surveys completed by the agency’s employees. The listings of winners may be found at http://www.topworkplaces.com/frontend.php/regional-list/map/delawareonline.

An article about Delaware’s Top Workplaces can be found at http://www.delawareonline.com/story/money/business/2014/08/19/delaware-top-workplaces-guide/14288875/. The Public Defender’s Office would like to thank both the Delaware News Journal and our employees for this recognition.

2013 Top Workplaces in Delaware

For the third straight year, the Public Defender's Office was recognized as one of the top workplaces in Delaware.  This year the Public Defender’s Office again ranked 4th among midsized organizations.  These results were published in the Delaware News Journal’s 2013 Top Workplaces in Delaware.  The winning organizations were selected based on voluntary surveys completed by the agency’s employees.  The rankings may be found at www.delawareonline.com/topworkplaces2013

A feature article about the Public Defender’s Office was included in this special section and can be found at http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013308180007

In addition, the Public Defender’s Office senior management was the winner of the “Clued In Senior Management” Award.  An article about this award may be accessed at http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013308180020

The Public Defender’s Office would like to thank both the Delaware News Journal and our employees for this recognition.

2012 Top Workplaces in Delaware

The Public Defender's Office was once again recognized as one of the top workplaces in Delaware.  This year the Public Defender’s Office ranked 4th among midsized organizations, as published in the Delaware News Journal’s 2012 Top Workplaces in Delaware.  The winners were selected based on surveys completed by the organizations’ workforce.

This special section included a feature article about the Public Defender’s Office at http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20120812/BUSINESS/308120053/Public-Defender-s-mission-keeps-staff-focus

Additionally, the Public Defender’s Office is proud to have been chosen for a special award for “Work-Life Flexibility.”  This article may be accessed at www.delawareonline.com/article/20120812/BUSINESS/308120092/Defenders-know-co-workers-will-back-them-up

Thank you to both the Delaware News Journal and to our employees for this recognition.

2011 Top Workplaces in Delaware

The Public Defender's Office is proud to be voted one of the 2011 Top Workplaces in Delaware, ranking 11th for midsized organizations, as published in the Delaware News Journal.  This award was the result of a nomination by Administrative Specialist II, Linda Haass, and employee surveys conducted through Workplace Dynamics. Additional information regarding the Public Defender’s Office Top Workplaces Award may be found at http://delawareonline.topworkplaces.com/company_survey/public-defenders-off_delaware/delaware_11