The Public Defender, as an officer of the court, has the professional duty to assist the court in every reasonable way in the improvement of justice and, therefore, is committed to the improvement of the Delaware criminal justice system. The Public Defender sits on the Delaware Criminal Justice Council and chairs the Videophone Sub-Committee and the Byrne Grant Sub-Committee. In addition, the Public Defender or, his designee, serves on the Sex Offenders Management Board, the Juvenile Justice Collaborative, the Delaware Girls Initiative, the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, the Supreme Court Mental Health Task Force, the School Discipline Task Force, the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group, the State Advisory Group and the National Juvenile Defender Center Northeast Regional Center.
The PDO has been an innovator in developing services to better serve our clients and the criminal justice system. The PDO implemented use of the videophone system to handle minor court appearances. In addition, this videophone system established better access to incarcerated clients allowing for attorneys, investigators and PFEs to contact clients at the various institutions. The PDO launched and participated in DNA Innocence Project investigations in Delaware. The PDO has been an advocate for specialty courts that consider the defendant as a whole. These courts include Mental Health and Drug Courts for adults and juveniles, and a Gun Court for juveniles. These various courts were developed to more effectively serve the special needs of certain populations in the criminal justice system and to divert many of these clients from entering the prison and probation systems in the first instance. This early psycho-forensic intervention for clients with indications of mental health or substance abuse issues provides for greater treatment-based advocacy and more favorable resolution of criminal charges.
The PDO has committed itself to mentor, educate and inspire students to pursue careers in public service. The PDO has recently developed a formal Law Clerk Program. The program offers opportunities for second and third-year law students. Second year students conduct legal research and writing. They are also provided the opportunity to observe different criminal proceedings in the various courts. Third-year students have the opportunity to advocate for our clients in the court room in Family Court and the Court of Common Pleas. The PDO has joined with Widener University School of Law in providing a public interest externship to law students.
The PDO continues to search for innovations in the criminal justice system that will improve the system overall and provide comprehensive representation and advocacy to our clients. We welcome collaboration with other criminal justice agencies, community partners and service providers. We strive every day to uphold our clients’ constitutional rights and provide quality legal representation.
Last Updated: Monday, 04-Oct-2010 11:17:15 EDT
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