Statement of Qualifications from Deja Vishny

Deja VishnyDeja Vishny

Position Seeking: Board Member

I have been a member of and active in NACDL since the late 1990’s. I am a career public defender who devotes 100% of my practice to representing indigent clients at the trial level and training other lawyers to provide a high quality defense.  I am passionate about the work of NACDL and would be honored to be elected to the Board of Directors.   I joined NACDL as a (relatively) young public defender; I still recall attending my first quarterly meeting in Indianapolis.  I immediately knew NACDL was an important organization to actively involve myself with.

NACDL is focusing a great deal of effort on reforming indigent defense systems.   As a Board member, I would work closely with staff who will be fighting for systemic indigent defense reform and providing high quality training for indigent defenders.  I am fortunate to have spent my entire career working at the Wisconsin State Public Defender, which is one of the most well-organized and well-funded state defender programs in the nation.   I am the head of the homicide defense team and the Deputy Training Director for the Wisconsin Public Defender and look forward to sharing what I have learned with others around the country.  NACDL can and should be at the forefront of enacting long overdue reforms that are needed to ensure adequate funding, reasonable caseloads and top notch training for those who serve the indigent.  I also want to focus on how NACDL can play a role in correcting racial disparity and reducing incarceration by innovative evidence based decision making reforms in charging, setting bail and sentencing in the criminal justice system.

My past activism with NACDL includes the following:

  • Serving on the Board of Directors from 2005-2011. 
  • Member of  the indigent defense committee in late 1990’s-2005, including two years as vice chair.
  • Organizer of numerous CLE’s from 2005 to the present, including four annual meetings, multiple quarterly meetings, CLE chair in 2008-09; Vice Chair of CLE institute since its inception.  Most recently I put together the programming for the upcoming 2014 annual meeting.
  • Organized the first ever Milwaukee annual meeting, attended by approximately 200 Wisconsin lawyers, most of whom were first time attendees.  The high attendance was the result of working with the local affiliate and Wisconsin public defender office.
  • Recruited many new members from Wisconsin and public defenders from other states.

In addition to the committee work, I am committed to teaching  lawyers how to do their utmost to defend clients who have been coerced into giving false confessions.  I have  spoken at numerous NACDL meetings (as well as other criminal defense CLE’s around the United States) on how to defend confession cases on topics ranging from motion practice to cross examining police detectives and defending false confessions in cases where a client is accused of a sex crime.  I also wrote an article for the Champion on this subject. I am in the process of finishing the second draft of a book on Suppressing Evidence which will be published by James Publishing Company.

I have also been active with the State Bar of Wisconsin, and served three terms on the Board of the Wisconsin State Bar Criminal Law Section.  I’ve published several articles in The Wisconsin Defender and teach trial advocacy at Marquette University Law School and have devoted countless hours volunteering my time teaching at CLE’s sponsored by NACDL affiliates, public defender offices, state bar associations and law schools.  I am also on the faculty of the National Criminal Defense college, where each year we recruit many new members to join NACDL.


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