The Battle to Protect the Rights of the Accused in Philadelphia
Publication: Nov 20
Publication: Nov 20
6 x 9
A vibrant history of the Defender Association of Philadelphia—dubbed “the best lawyers money can’t buy”Read Chapter 10 (pdf).
Long before the Supreme Court ruled that impoverished defendants in criminal cases have a right to free counsel, Philadelphia’s public defenders were working to ensure fair trials for all. In 1934, when penniless defendants were routinely railroaded through the courts without ever seeing a lawyer, Philadelphia attorney Francis Fisher Kane helped create the Voluntary Defender Association, supported by charity and free from political interference, to represent poor people accused of crime.
When the Supreme Court’s 1963 decision Gideon v. Wainwright mandated free counsel for indigent defendants, the Defender (as it is now known) became more essential than ever, representing at least 70 percent of those caught in the machinery of justice in the city. Its groundbreaking work in juvenile advocacy, homicide representation, death-row habeas corpus petitions, parole issues, and alternative sentencing has earned a national reputation.
In The Defender, Edward Madeira, past president of the Defender’s Board of Directors, and former Philadelphia Inquirer journalist Michael Schaffer chart the 80-plus-year history of the organization as it grew from two lawyers in 1934 to a staff of nearly 500 in 2015.
This is a compelling story about securing justice for those who need it most.
“Ned Madeira, esteemed member of the Philadelphia Bar for more than six decades, and journalist Michael Schaffer have crafted an eminently readable history of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. The Association’s record of providing counsel for Philadelphia defendants in need predates, by decades, the Supreme Court’s 1963 decision in Gideon recognizing a right to counsel in all state criminal prosecutions. Through interviews, anecdotes, and records, Madeira and Schaffer recount the experiences that forged today’s modern, respected Defender Association. This narrative of determination and dedication is especially timely as America is being challenged to reexamine many facets of its criminal justice system.”
—The Honorable Thomas G. Saylor, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
“The Defender Association of Philadelphia, one of the nation’s best public defender offices, revolutionized the practice of law by establishing model training programs for new lawyers, dramatically expanding diversion programs, and creating an entirely new practice surrounding alternative sentencing. The authors also recount instances, such as the ‘Grandpop Squad’ arrests of the early 1980s, where the Defender Association uncovered and helped put an end to illegal police practices whose victims, then and now, almost invariably were drawn from the Defender’s client base. Thus, The Defender convincingly shows how the foundation for today’s criminal justice and police reform movements can be discovered in the evolution of a public defender office that expanded its mandate well beyond the traditional representation of individual defendants in individual cases.”
—Robert Listenbee, First Assistant District Attorney of Philadelphia, former administrator of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and former Chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association
“As a young Assistant District Attorney, my first assignment was midnight to 8 a.m. at the police arraignment court. Often, the magistrate would tell the defendant that he was appointing the public defender to represent him, and he would reply, ‘But, your honor, I want a real lawyer.’ In fact, as I learned in the 14 years that I spent in the District Attorney’s office, the Philadelphia Public Defender Association had some of the very best lawyers in the city. Their representation was almost universally competent, effective, and driven only by their desire to provide justice to the defendant. They do important work, and the story of the Defender Association is particularly relevant in today’s climate where there is a desire to seek criminal justice reform.”
—Edward G. Rendell, former Governor of Pennsylvania
Table of Contents
Introduction: “There Is Need of a Defender”
1. The Early Years
2. The Road to Gideon
3. After Gideon
4. Lawyers Needed
5. Reorganized and Relevant
6. Tony’s Fellows Take Charge
7. Bigger, Then Better
8. Racial Diversity at the Defender
9. Pioneer Women
11. Law Reform
13. Funding and Defender Pay Parity
14. Taking Stock at a Milestone
15. Greenlee Steps Up
16. The Defender Takes on Homicide
17. Treatment Courts
18. Keeping Them out of Jail
19. Juvenile Defenders and Child Advocates
20. The Federal Defender
21. The Defender in the Twenty-First Century