The Delaware Public Defender’s Office (PDO) was established by statute in 1964 as a statewide agency. The PDO is charged with representing indigent people at every stage of the criminal process in both adult and juvenile courts. The PDO is committed to the ideal of providing high quality legal services to its clients. The PDO strives to achieve this ideal every day through the superior representation provided by its seventy-one licensed attorneys and dedicated support staff.
Delaware’s first Public Defender was James F. Kelleher. He was appointed in 1964 by Governor Elbert N. Carvel. During the first year of operation, the PDO handled 875 cases and Mr. Kelleher supervised a staff of three Assistant Public Defenders. Mr. Kelleher served from 1964-1970.
In 1970, Lawrence M. Sullivan was appointed as Delaware’s second Public Defender by Governor Russell W. Peterson and served for nearly 40 years under five different governors. Under his leadership, the PDO grew from a small office in Wilmington, Delaware with eleven employees to a statewide agency with over 140 employees. During Mr. Sullivan’s tenure, the PDO received several national awards including: The Vision Award from the International Association of Forensic Nurses in 2005, the Charles H. Dorsey Jr. Award from the American Bar Association in 2006 and the Reginald Heber Smith Award from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association in 2006. Upon his retirement, Mr. Sullivan’s achievements were honored in separate resolutions from the Delaware General Assembly and the New Castle County Council.
PUBLIC DEFENDER - Brendan O'Neill
Brendan O’Neill is Delaware’s Public Defender, appointed by Governor Markel in May, 2009. Brendan is a 1972 graduate of Dartmouth College and a 1975 graduate of the King Hall School of Law at the University of California, Davis. Before joining the Delaware Public Defender's Office in 1995, he practiced for two years with the Delaware Attorney General's Office. Before that, Brendan practiced law in California. He started his legal career as a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles, then practiced as an Assistant United States Attorney in Los Angeles. After leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Brendan started a law firm in Santa Monica, specializing in criminal defense. After fourteen years in private criminal defense practice, Brendan and his family relocated to Delaware. Brendan has more than 30 years of experience trying criminal cases. Brendan has the distinguished honor of being a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
CHIEF DEPUTY - Todd Conner
Todd E. Conner is a graduate of Dickinson College and received his J.D. from Widener University School of Law in 1991. He was admitted to practice law by the Supreme Court of the State of Delaware in 1991. Mr. Conner began his legal career in 1991 with the Office of the Public Defender. His practice as a trial attorney has ranged from representation of clients charged with criminal offenses in Justice of the Peace Courts, Court of Common Pleas, Superior Court and the Delaware Supreme Court. In 2005, he became the New Castle County Superior Court Trial Unit Supervisor. In 2009, he was selected to serve as the Chief Deputy for the Office of the Public Defender. He lives in Wilmington with his wife and children.
CHIEF OF LEGAL SERVICES - Lisa Minutola
Lisa Minutola is the Chief of Legal Services for the Delaware Office of the Public Defender. She assumed this role in June 2009 after 13 years of service with the office. She has worked in various roles at the Public Defender’s Office including Family Court Supervising Attorney, Superior Court Trial Attorney, Court of Common Pleas Supervising Attorney and Court of Common Pleas Trial Attorney. During her years at the Public Defender’s Office, she has served as the Public Defender’s representative on numerous committees and task force collaborations, most notably in the juvenile justice arena. She was graduated cum laude from the University of Delaware with a B.A. in History and Political Science in 1988 and received her J.D from George Mason University School of Law in 1995.
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