In October 2009, the Public Defender’s Office established an Employee Recognition Program to recognize employees who make outstanding contributions to our office and our clients. Each quarter, fellow employees are invited to nominate individuals they believe are deserving of this award. The nominations are reviewed by a Recognition Committee consisting of employees from our New Castle County, Kent and Sussex offices. This committee sends their selection for Employee of the Quarter to the Public Defender for approval and announcement to the office. At the end of the year, the same committee will send their selection for the Employee of the Year Award from the past four winners of the Employee of the Quarter Award to the Public Defender for approval and announcement to the office.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: July 2015 - Sept 2015
It is a great pleasure to announce Anne Marie Morris as the Public Defender’s Office Employee of the Quarter for the Third Quarter of 2015. The good news is that Anne Marie is being honored as Employee of the Quarter in several categories, including long and outstanding state service and innovative ideas resulting in substantial improvements in quality, effectiveness and efficiency. This honor is not only well deserved, it is long overdue. Anne Marie joined the PD’s Office as a paralegal in 1998. During her tenure in the PD’s Office and recently in the Central Administration Branch of the Office of Defense Services, Anne Marie has been a stellar employee. She has earned the respect of all the people who came in contact with her. The bad news (for us) is that Anne Marie will be retiring at the end of the month. We congratulate Anne Marie on her well-deserved award and wish her well in a long and happy retirement.
Among the letters supporting Anne Marie’s nomination as Employee of the Quarter is one that really stands out. I’ve copied it an pasted it below. It really says it all about Anne Marie.
“Act like a Lady. Work Like a Boss. “
Working with lawyers can be a tough job. We can be disorganized, we can be last minute, we lose things, we can be cranky and sometimes down right tough to work with. Although we pay immeasurable attention to detail when reviewing discovery or when conducting cross examination, we often forget what we deem the “small stuff” – writing dispositions on files, opening or closing files, or remembering what happened in court earlier in the morning. Anne Marie Morris is the "CEO" of managing the “small stuff.” In reality, these tasks are not “small stuff.” Rather, it is what makes our office work like a well- oiled Mercedes. It is what ensures that our clients are interviewed timely and their files opened immediately so that our lawyers can begin work within a few days of a client being charged. It is making sure that no client in jail is forgotten. It is making sure the court gets it right when entering data. It is entering data timely and accurately so we have statistics for our office. It is reviewing complex conflicts of interest. It is dealing with all of us – lawyers, intake staff, support staff, and court staff. It is all of Anne Marie’s hard work that make it very easy to be a lawyer here. At many offices, lawyers do not have files when they go to their first court appearance or client visit. They are required to make their own file. Because of Anne Marie’s attention to the “small stuff,” Assistant PDs and Conflict Counsel get to focus simply on what they love – being lawyers.
I have had the privilege of working with Anne Marie for the last fifteen years. We have worked together in various capacities and offices. As a young lawyer in this office years ago, I was extremely lucky to have Anne Marie as part of my administrative staff. She taught me good habits that I use to this day. Habits that are not taught in law school. Habits that make us organized, and attentive to details. Habits that ensure our cases are managed efficiently and our clients represented effectively. No doubt Anne Marie will have a good laugh when she recalls all the young lawyers she trained in the CCP unit and the young judges she trained when she worked in the courts!
Anne Marie is a person to be counted on- always. She has extensive knowledge of all of our systems. Her attention to detail is like no other. I like to call Anne Marie the “Fixer.” Whenever a case disposition is incorrect, whenever a conflict is missed, whenever ten of us simply cannot figure out a problem, she is able to fix it. She does not just identify problems. She identifies them and always has a practical solution. With our recent changeover to vertical representation, we completely relied on her knowledge and experience to create and guide the process. Anne Marie’s feedback was critical to making all the moving pieces work. Anne Marie has taught us so much about the behind the scenes work that makes our jobs easier and our clients much better served. No matter how many times we have changed her duties or role in the office, Anne Marie always took on every new challenge with a smile. We all value her insight and institutional knowledge. In fact, she may be better at analyzing conflicts of interest than most lawyers! Her work ethic is “old school.” Do the job you are given and do it to the best of your ability. Anne Marie always applies the best of herself to any task at hand – regardless of how large or small. It is comforting to know, particularly in a law practice, that you can delegate a task to a strong staff person and know that it will be done well.
Aside from Anne Marie’s excellent work, our office will miss a longtime friend and confidant. She was always interested in how your kids were doing, your recent vacation, or sharing a funny story or complaint about her husband. While we appreciate all of Anne Marie’s work, we also appreciate her kindness, sense of humor, and her investment in all of us as friends.
Smart, dedicated, hardworking, kind, funny, loyal, respected. Traits of a lady and a boss. Traits of our colleague and friend.
That pretty much sums up Anne Marie Morris. Anne Marie, congratulations on your award and thank you for all you’ve done for so many years. You’ve been a tremendous colleague and a huge asset to our office.
All the best from your colleagues in the Office of Defense Services. We wish you a long and happy retirement.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: April 2015 - June 2015
Latoya Waples is our Employee of the Quarter for the Second Quarter of 2015. Latoya is a Psycho-Forensic Evaluator in our Kent Count office. We’re recognizing Latoya for her demonstrated outstanding professional demeanor to co-workers and clients, and for her exceptional client service. Among those supporting Latoya’s nomination is an Assistant Public Defender in our Dover office who wrote the following about Latoya:
I had a client in cellblock who appeared to be in the early, undiagnosed stages of some form of serious mental illness. It was not immediately apparent (he denied issues on intake) and the client and I got off on the wrong foot. The situation rapidly deteriorated and the client didn’t want to hear anything I had to say. He was arguing with me over good news (“I’m saying we can get your bail unsecured, you would be released from prison.” “You just want to lock me up!”). I called back to the Office and Latoya came over for a chat with the young man. Latoya ended up talking with him one on one for quite a few minutes, calmed him down, and obtained information that let me reset and resume my conversation with him in a far more productive manner. Suddenly I had a cooperative client who we were able to assist. The situation was turning into an absolute disaster before Latoya came to the rescue.
In a similar vein, I recently had another client who I initially referred to Latoya for mitigation. She talked to him repeatedly, patiently, and at considerable length, discovering that he actually had a severe and undiagnosed mental illness that he was concealing. Someone with less patience or expertise could have easily missed it.
Further, Latoya has done a fantastic job of hunting down mitigation for some very difficult clients of mine. I always know my clients are in good hands with her, whether she's assessing their psychiatric needs or helping me cobble together the messy stories of their lives.
These are just a few examples of Latoya’s excellent work. There are many more stories about Latoya’s good work on behalf of our clients.
Latoya, congratulations. Your recognition as Employee of The Quarter is well deserved. Keep up your good work.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: Jan 2015 - March 2015
It’s a great pleasure to announce that Mike Menago is our Employee of the Quarter for the First Quarter of 2015. Mike is an Investigator in our Dover office. The sentiment is unanimous that Mike is a really good worker and a really great guy. He’s a most deserving recipient of this honor.
Among other things, Mike trains and supervises student interns to do intake interviews, which is a huge benefit for our operation. Our use of interns under Mike’s tutelage has improved client service by enabling us to accommodate client walk-ins for intakes and phone interviews all day, every day. Mike’s work is a big asset to our office. Since the interns are volunteers, we save a lot of money by Mike’s training them and then putting them to work. He keeps morale high by hosting a party to thank the interns for their service. He then sends them off into the world having had a positive experience with us.
A sterling example of Mike’s generous spirit was his arranging a welcome home surprise for a serviceman returning from an overseas deployment. The soldier’s wife was working as an intern for us. Mike arranged it so he showed up at our office to greet his overjoyed wife. Great stuff, captured on video. Well done Mike.
Mike does a lot more than manage interns. One of the people who nominated Mike for this honor wrote as follows: Mike is a quick study as an investigator and by quick I mean you never ask him twice for anything. I once called him from prelims about pulling a video from a Royal Farms for me so that it wouldn't be lost. The report was e-mailed to me before I was finished with the prelim calendar ( and it was a very good report). This is just an example of his willingness to always get the job done right away and attention to all of the details. His work with the interns has made a huge difference for our office. He does a lot to boost morale in his own quiet way, he is a heck of a nice guy and really deserves this recognition.
Congratulations Mike. You’ve done a lot to earn this award. Thanks for all you do. Keep up your good work.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: October 2014 - Dec 2014
Congratulations to Terry Zink, our Employee of the Quarter for the Fourth Quarter of 2014. Terry’s been an Administrative Specialist with the PDO since January 1, 2001. Terry’s been working in our Carvel Building Office for her entire tenure with the PDO.
Most PDs know Terry as the welcoming face at the sign in desk for the PDO’s CLE program. However, Terry does much more than that just sign us in. She makes sure all the details are covered so our attorneys can sign in, sit down at a CLE program, walk out with a certificate and then see those CLE credits on a transcript at the CLE commission website. Due to Terry’s good work, none of us ever see all the behind-the-scenes work needed to run the CLE program. Her contribution to the CLE program has enabled our lawyers to meet their yearly CLE obligations without having to pay a penny. Other PDO employees, including PFEs and PDO investigators also benefit from the programs Terry administers. Without these programs, these attendees would have to pay for programs out of pocket or the taxpayers would have had to pay for PDO employees to attend outside programs.
Terry’s duties include getting applications filed on time, reserving space for the program, manning the sign in desk, and getting the credits applied to each attendee’s transcript. All this stuff gets complicated when, as often happens, discrepancies arise about credits, signatures, timing and the like. Terry manages to keep it all straight. As the CLE Commission’s rules have changed, and the CLE Commission’s staff has changed, Terry has been able to flex and adapt to those changes. Terry has learned and become adept at using the CLE Commission’s data base, understanding the CLE rules and keeping up with changes to the rules.
Even when faced with last minute challenges, Terry keeps her cool, never getting upset. She always remains calm when there are issues with programs ending early, last minute applications for accreditations to be filed, add on video programs near the reporting deadline, and misjudgments in the expected numbers (and more certificates needed immediately). Terry arrives early at offsite programs, stays late and gets the job done.
Terry has designed sign in sheets, certificates and brochures for the program. The certificates she designed have been complimented by the CLE commission and also copied by other groups putting on CLE presentations. Her idea to change to a digital format for handouts has resulted in cost savings for the office. She is the face of the PDO when she signs in outside attorneys; she answers their questions about the programs. She handles phone calls from them – remembering the names that go with the faces.
Terry’s calm demeanor and problem solving ability in the face of all the challenges the program has faced for 15 years – and keeping those challenges from the perception of those who attend the programs - deserves special recognition.
Congratulations Terry. Your recognition as Employee of the Quarter is well deserved. Thank you for all you do. Keep up your good work.
EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR: 2014 and EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: July 2014 - Sept 2014
Congratulations to Ron Barkauskie, Employee of the Quarter for the third quarter of 2014. As most us already know, Ron is an investigator in our Sussex County office. Ron joined us in June 2011 after a stellar career in the State Police then a tour of duty as a Sussex County Superior Court bailiff. Ron has been nothing but great since he joined us. The best thing I can say about Ron is that we are extremely fortunate to have him working with us. Anyone who knows Ron will agree that Ron is the consummate professional. He is a first rate investigator. His work ethic and work product are excellent. Not only that, Ron is a great guy. He is fun to be around. His enthusiasm is genuine and contagious. One of the people who nominated Ron for this award hit the nail on the head with the following written nomination:
This investigator/intake person arrives early every morning and does intakes on all the incarcerated clients. His narratives on the intakes are excellent and provide the attorneys with a heads up about their clients. As a former cop, he has great instincts about the veracity of the client's account.
More importantly, he has done a great job with investigations. He loves going to crime scenes and has found all kinds of helpful information during his investigations. He was recently used at trial with very good results (although he couldn't help annoying the prosecutor, which led to a rebuke of the prosecutor by the judge in front of the jury!). This employee has a lot of credibility so when he provides an exculpatory report or witness interview, the DAG's will usually drop the case. Best of all, he is a great coworker to have around - very steady, insightful, and funny.
That sums up Ron perfectly. He is a credit to our office, a huge asset to our law practice and a dear friend to all. Ron, thanks for all you do. Congratulations on this award. You’ve earned it.
Keep up your good work.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: April 2014 - June 2014
It’s a real treat to recognize Penny Wood as our Employee of the Quarter for the Second Quarter of 2014. Penny is a paralegal in our Dover Office who’s been with us for 21 years. Throughout her tenure with us Penny has been a stalwart employee. She has proven herself to be competent, loyal and respected by her co-workers. We are recognizing Penny in the category of employees who have “[d]emonstrated outstanding professional demeanor to co-workers and clients.”
Pasted below is a paraphrased version of one of the submissions nominating Penny for this award:
One of the most tedious jobs the clerical staff in this office has is the daily flood of phone calls received from clients, inmates and potential clients requesting information or assistance concerning their legal situations. Penny Wood fields hundreds of calls a day and goes out of her way to provide each client the most courteous and expert service one can provide, always being polite, remaining interested and smiling throughout the entire experience. Penny prides herself in answering all questions whenever possible, researching the data base and providing timely and accurate information, regardless of how long it takes to find the answer. In fact, I have known Penny to take down the client's contact information and follow through with a return phone call with the correct information, helping the client when necessary. When Penny has fielded calls that are beyond her scope of expertise she will refer to the attorneys’ secretaries or to the attorneys when they are available after court. Before the client's call is transferred Penny makes sure a detailed synopsis of the client's legal concerns and questions are provided to the call’s new recipient. Because of the excellent service Penny provides to our clients, many will call back and asks for Penny by name. All this is done in conjunction with all the other responsibilities Penny has to perform to prepare files and court calendars for the attorneys. Penny is a true professional and sets an excellent example of how clients should be treated by all of us regardless of how overwhelmed we may feel from time to time.
The submission nominating Penny for this award says it best about Penny. Her work is a shining example of fulfilling our mission of providing excellent, client-based services. Congratulations Penny. Your award is well deserved.
Thank you for all you do. Keep up your good work.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: January 2014 - March 2014
This is great stuff. Two of our newest full time employees, PFEs LaToya Waples and Shanika Tunnell, have together earned the distinction of being named Employees of the Quarter for the First Quarter of 2014. Although both LaToya and Shanika have been with us for some time, it wasn’t until February of this year that they came on board as full time employees. They certainly didn’t waste much time in proving they were the right people to hire on a full time basis.
Recently, on their own initiative, LaToya and Shanika traveled to New Jersey to pick up a client. The client has mental health issues and had no way to get to Delaware for an evaluation by Dr. Much. When they arrived at the client’s temporary residence, the client reported she had been kicked out of her motel room because she could no longer afford the rent. Our fearless PFEs took it upon themselves to find a place for our client to stay. They made calls to Rockford Center and to other mental health facilities to see whether any bed spaces were available. The client, who had been off her mental health medications for some time, refused to go back to a mental health facility. Undaunted, our resourceful PFEs contacted and convinced the client’s parents to allow her to stay with them, then drove her the parents’ residence themselves.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: October 2013 - December 2013
Congratulations Ed Ruebeck!!
Ed is our Employee of the Quarter for the Fourth Quarter of 2013. Ed receives the award in the category honoring employees for exceptional accomplishment, achievement, initiative, leadership and/or long and outstanding State service. It's safe to say that during Ed's tenure in the PD's Office, he's done all of the above.
One of the several co-workers who nominated Ed wrote as follows: "with over 15 years of State Service, Ed has seen just about every facet of the PDO. Starting as a Runner, Ed has advanced steadily through the ranks, currently working as a member of the Fiscal Department. His wit and sense of humor is renown within our office. But what I think people sometimes fail to see is Ed's solid and sincere work effort. He performs his job admirably, often under very busy circumstances. In the rare moments when he has a second to spare from his assigned duties, he looks for things to do. I have seen him, on many occasions, shred files, move boxes, re-organize supply closets, and a number of other tasks that we all take for granted. Ed takes care of those things without being asked. I have never made a request of him that he has failed to complete. Ed is the kind of person that an entire office seems to rely on to take care of a myriad of jobs, without a second thought that they would not be completed quickly and efficiently. Knowing full well that this recognition would embarrass him, I fully recommend this staff member as the Employee of the Quarter."
The above quote pretty much says it all about Ed. Terrific worker, ultimate team player, really great guy. He's also an extremely lucky to be married to the delightful Janice Ruebeck, a paralegal in our Carvel Building office. Ed, like many of the men in our office, myself included, has married above his station in life. Good for you Ed.
Ed, congratulations on your well-deserved award. You've earned the respect, admiration and friendship of your colleagues at the PD's Office.
Keep up your good work.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: July 2013 - September 2013
As everyone who has ever worked in our Carvel Building office well knows, Karen Short Wishowsky, aka Shorty, is an all-star. Thus, it is no surprise that Karen is our Employee of the Quarter for the Third Quarter of 2013. As of the beginning of this month, Karen celebrated 22 years of working in the PDO. During that time she has earned the respect and admiration of everyone she’s worked with. To put it most succinctly, she’s da bomb. Karen receives this award in category of “Exceptional accomplishment, achievement, initiative, leadership, or long and outstanding State service.” Karen exemplifies every single one of those reward worthy qualities.
I am nominating this employee for the third quarter because of her 22 years of service, attitude, willingness and commitment to completing assigned duties and every other project that needs to be done for the overall success of the Public Defender’s Office. If I could give this employee an official title, it would be “Ms. Everything”.
Karen, congratulations on this honor. You’ve earned it and you deserve it. We appreciate all you do for our office and our clients. You are a role model for all of us to follow. Thank you for all you do. Keep up your good work.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: April 2013 - June 2013
It is a very happy occasion. Marian Bhate’s co-workers (in other words, all of us who work in the PD’s Office) have selected her as Employee of the Quarter for the Second Quarter of 2013. All of us have benefitted from our association with Marian. Simply put, Marian and her IT staff have made our office’s IT capabilities the envy of other state agencies and other Public Defender offices. On top of that, Marian is always upbeat, warm, friendly and willing to take on any task. She is probably the person most responsible for keeping our office running.
Below in bold is part of one of the letters nominating Marian for this award:
Marian has impacted the IT department in the past few years more than I could have imagined. Her development of the Sharepoint forms has taken many of the tasks staff do here every day (i.e. Client Interviews, Leave Requests, Car Requests, etc.) to a much more efficient level.
She coordinates all of the IT business here, both the planned and emergency work, with a great deal of expertise and talent. As I know you are aware, there are always multiple irons in the fire at all times within the IT world. Multiple projects that compel her to coordinate the staff that perform the work, as well as the interdependencies of the projects themselves, require her to juggle many balls in the air at the same time. Marian manages them all expertly and with a wonderful attitude.
Which brings me to perhaps the greatest reason I believe that this honor is woefully overdue. It occurred to me today, walking back from Market St. with my lunch, that I genuinely look forward to coming here every day. I enjoy the work, I enjoy the people, and I find my life here to be rewarding. One of the reasons for this is Marian. It is so nice to report to a professional, caring person, that not only can support a staff member professionally, but does not forget that we all have lives outside of the PDO.
Marian is a pleasure to work with, and to work for. She manages her department and her staff (friends) with the utmost care and skill. I whole-heartedly nominate her for this award.
That letter pretty much says it all. Marian, congratulations on your award. It is well deserved. Keep up your good work. Thank you for all you do.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: January 2013 - March 2013
Penny Wood is This quarter’s Employee of the Quarter. Congratulations Penny. Well deserved.
Penny is a paralegal in our Dover office, providing support for our Kent County CCP lawyers. Dg her nearly 20 years with us Penny has been a steady and reliable staffer. No big drama, no big production, just a quiet competence day in and day out. That’s exactly what’s needed to handle the non-stop flow of files, cases, information, phone calls, clients etc., that come with a very busy CCP practice. Penny handles it all smoothly with no muss and no fuss.
On a recent Friday morning, Penny stepped up and did something above and beyond. Penny was covering the front desk. The client waiting room was packed with people because the court had scheduled a double preliminary hearing calendar. Penny ran over to the courthouse to deliver some files then returned to the waiting room. While trying to get back into the interior office, Penny bumped ever so slightly into the back of a client. The client stiffened up, fell backward onto Penny and went into a full blown seizure. Penny calmly asked a co-worker to call 911. Penny held the client’s head while trying to keep him calm by speaking gently to him. She did so for a number of minutes until the paramedics finally arrived and took over.
Without question, Penny’s actions were heroic. In her typically modest way, Penny just did the right thing. Like she always does. She never hesitated or worried about herself. She never wanted any kudos for doing it. She just went ahead and did what’s right.
Penny, thank you for all you do. Congratulations on being named employee of the Quarter. Keep up your good work.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: October 2012 - December 2012
It is a great pleasure to announce Carl Wilson as the winner of the Public Defender’s Office Employee of the Quarter for the Fourth Quarter of 2012. As we all know, Carl works behind the scenes to make sure that every one of us in the PD’s Office can use our technology to best serve our clients.
Every one of us has benefitted from Carl’s patient and encouraging teaching. The first place any new employee goes is to Carl’s workshop in the Carvel Office’s media room. Carl has taken each of through the use of our personal computers, our phone system, the PD database, JIC and DELJIS and on and on. Basically, Carl coaches us how to use the various tools we have to do our jobs. By his teaching/coaching, Carl has made himself one of the most important people in our law practice. Without Carl’s expertise and his willingness to share it, our law practice would be dead.
Carl takes pride in making sure every computer component works to fit our employees’ needs. He resolves issues and provides ongoing training to make sure we use our technology to its fullest. In many ways, Carl is an “unsung hero.” He is always on call and willing to go above and beyond his job description. Simply put, Carl will always do whatever is needed, whenever it’s needed. He helps all PD employee succeed in resolving the tech problems. Carl helps out in a bunch of different ways. Whether it’s bringing a frozen PC back to life, creating or recreating video scenes for courtroom presentations, helping lawyers put together PowerPoint presentations or creating new passwords , Carl does it all. And he does it with a generous and fun spirit. Carl never says “No”. Instead, he looks for ways to achieve, rather than taking an easy way out. The bottom line is that Carl makes our office go. Without him, were done.
Carl, thanks for all you do. Congratulations on being named Employee of the Quarter. Yours is a well deserved honor.
Keep up your good work.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: July 2012 - September 2012
It’s one of the best days of the year in the Delaware PD’s Office. Today we recognize our Employee of the Quarter, Terri Davis of our Sussex County office.
Terri is the rock upon which the daily workings of our Sussex County office are so precariously perched. She is the reason our Sussex County CCP lawyers walk out of the courthouse most days feeling like they own the place. Terri keeps the swirling mess of lawyers, clients, and files focused, organized, and under control. In short, Terri is the most important reason why we can provide our Sussex County CCP clients with such good representation.
Terri assists her assigned attorneys, which include legendary curmudgeons and clueless whippersnappers, with unyielding patience and grace. Need a continuance? Terri already has it done. Quick investigation on a tight deadline? She does that too. Missing file? Not on her watch. Sure, Terri will gently scold a lawyer who messes up her organizational system. But it’s but it’s really the lawyer’s fault for messing with perfection.
Terri does an outstanding job with a joyful spirit while embracing new challenges and ideas. Recently Terri converted the entire CCP unit's case management system so that each case is now assigned to an individual attorney. Terri took on this project and its additional stress without complaint and made it work without any significant issues.
By the way, Terri also manages a Superior Court attorney’s caseload with the her signature deft touch. For these reasons, and others too numerous to list, Terri richly deserves her recognition as Employee of the Quarter for the Third Quarter of 2012.
Congratulations, Terri. You deserve this award. Keep up your good work.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: April 2012 - June 2012
It is a great pleasure to announce Melissa Sage is the Public Defender’s Office Employee of the Quarter for the Second Quarter of 2012.
Melissa’s work over the last 12 years has been instrumental in the development of our much admired case management system and our internet and intranet websites. Her work on the automation of our client letters has led to the increased productivity of our secretarial staff. She created the AddClient program that allows our File Openers to quickly open a new case file using DELJIS data. This saves our staffers hours and hours of work every week.
Melissa’s expertise, the quality of her work and her creativity make her a tremendous asset to the operations of the PD's office.
Melissa, thank you for all you do. Congratulations on your well-deserved award. Keep up your good work.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: January 2012 - March 2012
Marcella Hall is a mainstay in our Dover Office’s Family Court unit. In recognition of her excellent work over a long period time, Marcella is awarded our Employee of the Quarter for the First Quarter of 2012. Marcella processes our Dover Family Court cases by herself. On her own, she has developed a system that runs very well. Our Dover family Court attorneys rely on Marcella getting done everything needed and doing so in a timely manner and without error.
As one of our Family Court attorneys has written about Marcella:
“When I need something from her she usually knows it first and completes it, sometimes before I ask. I recently returned to Family Court and I will tell you that part of my decision to do so was based on the fact that I know the level and quality of support that I can expect and that Marcella delivers. I find that she takes pride in her work and is really dedicated to our clients. Even with difficult clients, Marcella puts in extra effort to help in any way she can. Marcella is extremely intelligent and is able to research and find solutions for problems as they arise. Marcella is conscientious and willing to help out and does so without complaint.
Over a year ago, Marcella volunteered to conduct client intake interviews at Family Court and that has been a great help to our clients, Family Court attorneys as well as the rest of our office. I am sure this frees our interviewer/investigators up at least ½ day every week if not more since they no longer have to spend arraignment days in Family Court. She made this process so much better for us because she already processes the calendars and identifies potential conflicts. This makes the process at Court much more efficient, not to mention the fact that she inputs data that was not being entered in the data base before she took over this duty. Another benefit is to our clients since she becomes familiar with them as they interview and they can put a face to her name when they call for various reasons throughout the duration of the case. I knew that it would be a good thing when she volunteered but it has been even more valuable than we thought it would be. Marcella took this on in addition to her other duties and is able to manage without additional support from other staff.”
Without question, Marcella’s award is well deserved. Her initiative in undertaking new duties and doing them well are excellent examples of the values we in the PD’s Office aspire to live by. Marcella is a genuine unsung hero.
Marcella, congratulations on your award. It is well deserved. Keep up your good work.
EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR 2012 AND
One of the neat things about the arrival of a new year is the opportunity to recognize our Employee of the Fourth Quarter of the previous year. It is a pleasure to announce that Connie Green is our Employee of the Fourth Quarter of 2011. All who’ve been lucky enough to work with Connie have enthusiastically endorsed her selection as Employee of the Quarter.
Connie joined our office in May 1997. Since then she’s been an excellent worker and colleague. For the last several years Connie has worked in our New Castle County CCP office. She does a great job opening and closing our case files, preparing the numerous calendars and keeping things going in an office that handles an insane volume of cases. Connie is always diligent about her work, but she is much more than that. What really sets Connie apart is the spirit she brings to work every day. As all her co-workers know, Connie is unfailingly generous, warm, lighthearted and fun.
Copied and pasted below is what one of Connie’s co-worker’s wrote in nominating her for this award:
In the hectic, overburdened place known as the Court of Common Pleas - there are always too many clients, never enough time, and always some type of crisis. Thankfully, the Public Defender's Office has Connie Green to help. She is a tireless worker for her attorneys and helpful to other support staff. I think where she really is a credit too is with our clients. She always has time to speak with them (even if they call about the same issue multiple times) and she always treats them with respect and tries to help the best that she can (even if it is just being a sympathetic ear). Connie never calls attention to herself or wants credit. Connie makes a difference every day and I am proud to work with her.
That sums up what Connie means to our operation.
Connie, for your demonstrated outstanding professional demeanor to co-workers and clients, and for your exceptional client service, you are a most deserving winner of the Employee of the Quarter for the Fourth Quarter of 2011 and Employee of the Year for 2012. Congratulations. You’ve earned and deserve this award.
Keep up your good work.
EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR 2011 AND
Denise Matz is the office manager of our Sussex County Office. Simply put, Denise has been instrumental in helping our Sussex County Office develop a culture of genuine enthusiasm for the work we do. As anyone who has been to our Sussex Office knows, Denise is the glue that holds our Sussex operation together. She does what ever is needed to get the job done and does so with an upbeat, can-do attitude.
Public Defender, Brendan O’Neill states, “I’m not just making this stuff up. I know from personal experience. A few years ago, I was one of several lawyers working a capital murder case that ended up going to trial in Sussex. Despite it being a Sussex County case, Stephanie Tsantes was the lone APD from Sussex. For trial, Deb Carey and I commuted each day from up north. During that two month period, Denise was a fantastic host, an efficient secretary and a trusted adviser. She was a crucial part of the defense team. Her help was invaluable to the defense of a very difficult case.”
Denise hasn’t let up since that trial. She’s still the same generous, enthusiastic, warm and efficient worker she was in that murder case. One of the people who nominated Denise for Employee of the Quarter wrote as follows:
This person does anything you would ask. She is a great asset to our agency. The office where she works would have a very hard time surviving if she was not there. She looks for ways to be more efficient for the office. If she doesn't know the answer to your question (which is very rare) she finds out and gets back to you.
She is the "go to" person in this office. I know from calls I get that need to be addressed in her office, the clients are thrilled that she has taken care of their problems. She stops what she is doing to help clients and co-workers.
Denise, thanks for all you do. Your selection as Employee of the Quarter for the Third Quarter of 2011 and Employee of the Year for 2011 is well deserved. Congratulations.
Keep up your good work.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: April 2011 - June 2011
Trish Pietlock has been with the PDO since April 1997. She works in our Family Court office in the New Castle County Courthouse. Her job title is Paralegal II. Anyone who works in that office, indeed any PDO employee who stops by that office, knows her job title does not do her justice. Trish does much more than her excellent work as a paralegal. In many ways, Trish is the glue that keeps our Family Court office together. She is the go to person for anyone with a problem or a question about Family Court cases and/or procedures. She is a friendly and gracious host to the visitors to our courthouse office; she always has a fresh pot of coffee to share.
One of the people who nominated Trish for this award wrote the following:
By far the most helpful and courteous employee in the Courthouse, not only in our office but in the ENTIRE Courthouse. Always willing to help co-workers and clients address a problem, question and/or concern until a resolute and clear answer is reached. Her leadership skills and optimistic attitude contribute so much to our office as a whole, professionally, and on multiple occasions she is responsible for bringing us all together to ensure that we recognize one another on a personal level. This all on-top of the fact that she's been a dedicated employee at the PDO for a long time (not sure how long but it's been long).
The description above captures what Trish is all about. Trish, congratulations! Your positive attitude and excellent work ethic have earned you the distinction of Employee of the Quarter.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: January 2011 - March 2011
All of us who’ve worked with Kerry Ferriter wholeheartedly endorse her selection as Employee of the Quarter for the First Quarter of 2011. Kerry does not approach her work as head of our Psycho Forensic Unit as a job. Instead, Kerry treats her work as a calling to help others who are not as fortunate as most of us are. Kerry’s dedication to her calling is reflected in the consistently high quality of her work product and her interactions with others.
Throughout Kerry’s tenure at the PDO she has demonstrated a level of professionalism that is becoming increasingly rare these days. Intelligence, insight and a true sense of fairness are just some of the traits Kerry shares with us every day. Those who work with Kerry are constantly impressed by her commitment to our clients. Kerry’s colleagues routinely rely on her for advice, suggestions and direction in a wide array of cases. Kerry’s has a thorough understanding of our legal system and how it impacts our clients. Kerry’s talents are equally impressive when dealing directly with clients and their families.
In addition to her professionalism and positive work ethic, Kerry is a genuinely nice person. She is upbeat, approachable and makes others feel comfortable and at ease. Her recognition as the Public Defender’s Employee of the Quarter for the First Quarter of 2011 is well deserved.
Congratulations Kerry. Keep up your good work.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: October 2010 - December 2010
Congratulations to Lucille Stanish, our Public Defender’s Office Employee of the Quarter for Fourth Quarter 2010. Lucille has earned this honor by her consistently high quality work on behalf of our clients.
In October 2004 Lucille joined the Public Defender’s Office as a Psycho-Forensic Evaluator. Since coming on board, Lucille has worked in New Castle County, primarily in our Superior Court practice. Lucille’s service to our clients is exceptional. She provides the most helpful mitigation information possible, while still maintaining credibility with the Courts. Lucille provides the kind of information and detail in her reports that makes it possible for our lawyers to argue for, and achieve, better sentences for our clients. Lucille always gets things done on time and done right. Her reports reflect the time, energy and effort she puts into her work.
There is nothing flashy or self-promoting about Lucille. She does her job well and efficiently, with professionalism and grace. Simply put, Lucille gives our lawyers the tools to do their best work for our clients. Through her dedication, Lucille has earned the admiration of her co-workers, the respect of the Courts and the gratitude of our clients.
For all these reasons, Lucille is the Employee of the Quarter for the Fourth Quarter of 2010. Congratulations Lucille. Thanks for all you do. Your award is well deserved. Keep up your good work.
EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR 2010 AND
Congratulations to Mary Beth McDermott - Employee of the Quarter (July – September 2010) and Employee of the Year 2010
It is a pleasure and a privilege to announce Mary Beth McDermott as the Public Defender Employee of the Quarter for 2010’s Third Quarter. Mary Beth has been with the office for over 25 years. In many ways, she is the heart and soul of the Public Defender’s Office. For the most part, Mary Beth works behind the scenes skillfully and cheerfully handling all the details for our budgeting process, our personnel issues, and every aspect of the PDO’s finances. Simply put, without Mary Beth’s good work, the PDO would not be the same.
Mary Beth is never too busy to assist anyone who calls, e-mails or walks into her office. She will respond even when she is on vacation or out sick. She will stop whatever she is doing and help out a colleague. If she is unsure of the answer, she will not stop until she finds it.
Office supervisors routinely look to Mary Beth for help in changing secretarial assignments, drafting new form letters for our database, advising them on personnel issues with staff, answering questions regarding medical/health issues, providing information about changes with vacation/sick leave time, and ordering or servicing office equipment. Mary Beth is always current on all changes affecting us in the PDO, including HR matters, database changes or personnel changes.
Mary Beth’s service allows the PDO to be a well organized, efficient agency and enabled us to remain a first rate law firm. She has done so with great skill and genuine humility. The bottom line is that this award is long overdue for Mary Beth. She looks out for the best interests of our office and all of us who are privileged to work here, while never seeking any personal credit.
Mary Beth, congratulations! You deserve this award and more.
Thank you for all you do.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: April 2010 - June 2010
Congratulations to Jen Faulkner - Employee of the Quarter (April – June 2010)
Jen Faulkner is our new Employee of the Quarter. Jen has been employed with the State of Delaware for 23 years in a variety of positions within the judicial system. Since joining our office in 9 years ago, Jen has been an exemplary worker, meeting and exceeding our expectations of teamwork, professionalism and empathy with our clientele. Jen presently works at our office at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington running our responsible release program.
Without hesitation, Jen accepted additional responsibilities and became our point person in resolving the complex issues of timely prisoner release. Jen has been instrumental in following through to ensure the timely release of our clients. Due to Jen’s hard work, our clients are now getting out of jail when they’re supposed to, instead of languishing in custody illegally. Jen frequently stays past normal work hours to make sure our clients get out on time.
Jen understands the importance of collaboration with others to achieve success. Jen is a total team player who: (a) is flexible; (b) is goal oriented; and (c) is always considerate of any decisions impacting other members of the Public Defender’s Office.
One client’s mother referred to Jen as “an angel sent from above.” Jen answered the mother’s many questions about the status of her incarcerated son. The mother explained that “she was totally in tears, upset and Jen showed total empathy for what I was experiencing.” The mother stated “if everyone treated clients the way Jen does, then society would be a better place.” All who have worked with Jen readily agree.
Jen’s dedication, attitude and work ethic reflect her commitment to the goals of our office. Jen has set an example for all of us to admire and aspire to. Jen, thanks for all you do for our clients and our office.
Congratulations on being selected Employee of the Quarter. This award is well deserved. Keep up your good work.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: January 2010 - March 2010
Tracy Huey is the Public Defender’s Office Employee of the Quarter for the first quarter (January – March 2010).
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER: October 2009 - December 2009
Congratulations to Jason Pluck for his selection as our first Employee of the Quarter (October – December 2009). Jason has been a Psycho-Forensic Evaluator with the Public Defender’s Office since June 2005. He presently works out of our New Castle County Court of Common Pleas office.
The selection committee tabbed Jason for this honor after considering a group of stellar nominees. During his tenure in the Public Defender’s Office, Jason has consistently done whatever it takes to get his clients the best possible results. He’s created a long list of accomplishments that define what it takes to be a PFE. Included are chasing down long lost relatives to find housing for clients, spending time with family members to get them on board in support of case plans or treatment plans, writing excellent reports for our lawyers to present to the Court and generally collaborating with our lawyers for the benefit of our clients.
Jason not only does great work. He does it with a great attitude. It is apparent to all who work with Jason that he loves his work. He is unfailingly upbeat, positive and friendly. He is a great example to us all.
Congratulations Jason. Your choice as Employee of the Quarter is well earned. Keep up your good work.
Delaware Award for Excellence and Commitment in State Service
On May 8, 2014, the ceremony for the Delaware Award for Excellence and Commitment in State Service was held at the Delaware Technical and Community College in Dover. Two Public Defender employees were honored. Carl Wilson was honored as Employee of the Year for the office for 2013. His award was for the “Innovative Idea” category. Carl is the IT Trainer and trains every new employee on the office’s computer systems. He also provides ongoing training and technical problem solving. Penny Wood was honored with an award for heroism. Penny is a paralegal in our Kent office. One day she encountered a client in the lobby who was having a seizure. She calmly assisted the client until help could arrive.
Congratulations to both Carl and Penny. You exemplify the best qualities of the Public Defender’s Office and its employees!
Delaware State Bar Association’s Government Service Award
Senior counsel in the Office of the Public Defender is pleased to announce that Public Defender, Brendan O’Neill, was awarded the Delaware Bar Association’s Government Service Award on December 6, 2011. This award is presented to an individual in recognition of their dedicated and distinguished contribution to the administration of justice. Mr. O’Neill was nominated for this prestigious award by one of his colleagues and the following is an excerpt from her nomination letter to the DSBA:
Earlier this week, the News Journal cited the Office of the Public Defender as one of the top places to work in our state (rank of 11 in the midsize employer category). Our office was the only government agency to attain a “top place to work” ranking. Much of the credit can be attributed to Brendan, who is much admired as a role model and mentor for many of the attorneys. The Office of the Public Defender is charged with the responsibility of handling indigent criminal cases in Delaware. These cases include capital litigation matters (death penalty cases).
Brendan has distinguished himself as a manager for a variety of reasons, but his willingness to take on the most difficult cases is probably the most remarkable. He has a reputation for picking up the most time consuming cases that often involve the most high maintenance clients. He has been known to visit clients every single day at the prison in death penalty cases. Simply put, he doesn’t ask his attorneys to handle matters that he himself would not handle. His attitude and work ethic inspire his attorneys and staff to strive for the best outcomes for our clients.
Public defenders are not always popular or held in high esteem. At one time or another, all of the attorneys in our office have been asked: “How can you represent such people?” None of the lawyers in the Office of the Public Defender are “pro-crime” or “anti-law enforcement.” Rather, we all believe in the Right to Counsel and we try to provide the best representation possible to our clients. Brendan makes us feel like our contributions are important and valuable. He likes to catch people doing things right and is generous with praise and credit when appropriate. He leads by example. In addition, he manages to accomplish all of these things with grace and a sense of humor. As such, there is great camaraderie and high morale within the office as a result of Brendan’s remarkable service to our state.
Office of the Public Defender nomination for the Governor's Award for Excellence and Commitment in State Service - Mary Beth McDermott
Mary Beth McDermott is the Support Services Administrator for the Public Defender's Office but takes on many roles that are outside of the scope of her title. In many ways, she is truly the heart and soul of the office.
Mary Beth has worked for the State for nearly 35 years and for the Delaware Public Defender's Office for 30 years. Mary Beth started with the State on February 8, 1977 with Family Court as a seasonal employee and held the position of Clerk Typist I. She became a full time employee with Family Court in April 1977 and worked there until January 1981. She held the positions of Clerk Typist I, Clerk Typist II, Clerk Typist III, and Sr. Clerk Typist. She transferred to the Public Defender Office in January 1981 and rose through the ranks holding various positions including Typing Stenographic & Secretary, Sub-Professional Accounting Auditing, General Administrative Assistant II, and Administrator Officer 1. She was promoted to her present role as the Support Services Administrator in 1999.
For the most part, Mary Beth works behind the scenes skillfully and cheerfully handling all the details of the office's budgeting process and all other financial details throughout the year. Without her, the office would not operate as smoothly as it does. The Public Defender's Office is a well organized and efficient agency, as well as a first rate law firm, due in large part to Mary Beth's continual guidance and assistance throughout her many years of service. She has provided this service with great skill and genuine humility.
In addition to her financial duties, she handles many of the human resource matters for the office, staying current on all changes and disseminating that information to the employees. Unit supervisors routinely look to her for assistance with rotating secretarial assignments, adding new form letters, codes or other improvements to the Public Defender's Database, addressing personnel issues with staff, answering questions regarding medical/health issues, entering and calculating annual and sick leave, and ordering or servicing office equipment.
Mary Beth is never too busy to assist anyone who calls, e-mails or just walks into her office with a question. She will respond even when she is on vacation or sick leave (which she rarely takes) and will stop whatever she is doing to assist a fellow employee. She has a wealth of institutional knowledge about both the Public Defender's Office specifically and state policies and procedures generally. On the rare occasion when she is unsure of the answer, she will not stop until she finds the correct information.
The bottom line is that recognition for Mary Beth McDermott is long over due. She is a big shot who never acts like one. She looks out for the best interests of the office and the employees who are privileged to work with her, while never seeking any personal credit. She may be the best kept secret in the State of Delaware. It is time for the State to get to know and honor her.
On March 18, 2011, the New Castle County Superior Court Mental Health Court team was awarded the 2010 Governor’s Team Excellence Award by Governor Jack Markell. The Governor’s Team Excellence Award is presented annually to a team of six to twenty state employees that exhibits qualities of a high functioning team that uses innovation and ingenuity resulting in cost savings and operational efficiencies. Consistent with Governor Markell’s priority for a more efficient and effective government, employees and agencies are encouraged to work together for improved customer service, improved work processes, innovative service delivery and ways of doing business, and cost savings. The New Castle County Superior Court Mental Health Court is a post disposition court for individuals on probation who experience mental health issues that may affect their ability to successfully complete probation. Through this program focuses treatment that address mental health needs and monitors progress through regularly scheduled status conferences with Judge Jan Jurden. The Public Defender’s Office, along with other partner agencies such as the Superior Court, Probation and Parole, DHSS and the Department of Justice, were recognized as agencies that contributed to the development and continued operation of this program. The governor also recognized individual team members for their contributions including, Brian Bartley, Assistant Public Defender, who is assigned to the handle cases on the Superior Court Mental Health Court calendar.
Jennie Faulkner, our paralegal at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institute (HRYCI), was again recognized by HRYCI and its partner agencies. On 2/22/11, Jennie received a certificate of appreciation from the MHM Services which runs the pre-trial drug treatment program at HRYCI at their employee recognition luncheon. Then, on 3/9/11, she was awarded a certificate of excellence by HYRCI at the monthly employee recognition gathering. Congratulations to Jennie. The accolades are well deserved.
The American College of Trial Lawyers recently nominated New Castle County Superior Court trial attorney, Ferris Wharton, for induction as a Fellow of the College. According to their website, the American College of Trial Lawyers is composed of the best of the trial bar from the United States and Canada and is widely considered to be the premier professional trial organization in America. Founded in 1950, the College is dedicated to maintaining and improving the standards of trial practice, the administration of justice and the ethics of the profession. Through its Board of Regents, its general committees and its state and province committees, the College engages in a wide variety of activities to further those purposes. Fellowship is extended only by invitation, after careful investigation, to those experienced trial lawyers who have mastered the art of advocacy and whose professional careers have been marked by the highest standards of ethical conduct, professionalism, civility and collegiality. Although there are currently more than 5,700 Fellows across the U.S. and Canada, membership can never be more than 1% of the total lawyer population of any state or province. Qualified lawyers are called to Fellowship in the College from all branches of trial practice. They are selected from among advocates who represent plaintiffs or defendants in civil proceedings of all types, as well as prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers. The College is thus able to speak with a balanced voice on important issues affecting the administration of justice.
This is a well deserved honor for both Ferris and the Public Defender’s Office. Ferris joins Public Defender, J. Brendan O’Neill who is also a member of the College. Congratulations Ferris. You have set an excellent example of professionalism for all fellow Assistant Public Defenders to follow.
Kester Crosse was honored on October 6, 2010, at a celebration at the Baby Grand Opera House on Market Street in Wilmington, Delaware. Mr. Crosse is a trial attorney in the New Castle County Superior Court Unit with over 30 years of experience. Our Youth, Inc. recognized Mr. Crosse and other prominent Delawareans, including Court of Common Pleas Chief Judge Alex Smalls and Superior Court Judge Charles Toliver, for their lifelong service to the young people of our community. Our Youth, Inc. is a “teaching, training, and empowering” center for “at-risk” youth in the City of Wilmington. Congratulations to Kester Crosse on his well deserved award.
Jennie Faulkner, a paralegal at our Howard R. Young office, was nominated for and awarded the Employee of the Month Award for May 2010 by the Warden’s Office in conjunction with the Employees Fund Committee. She was commended for doing a job well done and going above and beyond her normal job duties. What is most remarkable is the fact that Jennie is a Public Defender employee and not a Department of Corrections employee and yet was awarded a Department of Corrections honor. Apparently, the Department of Corrections has recognized what we knew all along, Jennie is a treasure.
In her role at Howard R. Young, Jennie has for years assisted inmates in resolving issues related to sentence calculations and release dates. Most recently, she has taken on the role of coordinating and resolving statewide issues for our office with the Department of Corrections Central Records Division. She is known throughout our office, and now apparently, throughout the state corrections system, as the “go to person” when an inmate has a question regarding their incarceration status.
It is a well deserved honor for Jennie. Keep up the good work and make sure that the Department of Corrections knows that we are not giving you up!
Public Defender’s Office Ties for 1st
The Public Defender’s Office tied with Delaware Economic Development Office for first place in the category of the largest contributing agency for the 2009 State Employee Charitable Campaign. 147 Public Defender Employees (60 percent) contributed to the campaign. To read more on the 2009 State Employee Charitable Campaign, please follow this link, http://www.communitypub.com/state_news/x2034411834/Delaware-s-government-workers-extend-charity-toward-all