- Published on 12 January 2017
Public defense in New Orleans, across Louisiana and throughout our country is in crisis. 2015 saw a continuation of yearly funding shortages and cuts. Years of chronic underfunding due to Louisiana’s user-pay criminal justice system – a system where public defender budgets depend on traffic fines and other fees charged to their poor clients – gave way to the worst public defense crisis since Hurricane Katrina. The shortfalls prompted cuts and service restrictions for the Orleans Public Defenders(OPD).
- Published on 26 May 2015
In 2014, OPD fought for dignity, fairness and justice more than 21,000 times in Criminal, Juvenile, Municipal and Traffic Courts. We made significant advances in juvenile mitigation, bond advocacy and mental health representation, and laid the groundwork to reduce recidivism with diversion and alternatives to incarceration programs.
Our 2014 Annual Report highlights our work to create a better, more just criminal justice system.
- Published on 09 April 2014
Fifty years ago, a Florida drifter changed the legal landscape forever. In five handwritten pages to the U.S. Supreme Court, Clarence Earl Gideon asserted he had the right to a lawyer - even with no money in his pocket. The United States Supreme Court agreed. In the landmark case, Gideon v. Wainwright, the Court ruled the right to a lawyer is fundamental, essential to the fair trial and cannot be denied. Moreover, the right means everyone is entitled to effective representation. The Orleans Public Defenders Office (OPD) strives each day to provide our clients zealous legal representation, breathing life into this constitutional guarantee.
We all have much in common with Clarence Gideon. We believe in fairness and justice. Further, we are taught that fairness and justice are owed - inalienable - to all of us. What we may forget is, in the end, we are all Gideon.
Annual Reports offer a chance to look back and reflect on the past year; this report was no different. 2013 was a year full of challenges, victories and defeats, both big and small, and a renewed dedication to the call of Gideon. Each one of us has a very personal reason why we continue on in often arduous circumstances, but together we push forward working for change and justice. We welcome you to join us on the journey.
Click on the image, or here, to download the report.
- Published on 18 March 2013
As public defenders, we often compare our work to fighting a war - a war to guarantee the Constitutional right to counsel for every poor person in Orleans Parish. Each day OPD is on the front lines, doing battle in that war. In 2012, OPD faced one of its toughest battles. Budget shortfalls, layoffs, restrictions of services and increasing caseloads tested our commitment and made us question what we fight for.
Click to the left for our stories from the front.
- Published on 26 May 2015
The hard work and motivation of our staff was as evident as ever in 2011. OPD represented indigent clients in nearly 9,000 felony cases and over 20,000 misdemeanor cases. We closed a total of 22,125 cases. Misdemeanors, probation violations, municipal and traffic cases accounted for 16,690 while felonies closed in at 5,435.
OPD relies on specialized divisions to ensure our clients receive the meaningful representation they deserve. In 2011, each of these divisions played an integral role in our success.