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Client-Centered Values on Display at Southern Public Defender Training Center
By Andrew Wise
On his first day in a New Orleans courtroom in 2005, Jonathan Rapping watched as a man wearing an orange jumpsuit appeared before a judge for his presentment. “Where’s your lawyer?” asked the judge. “I haven’t seen a lawyer since I was locked up,” responded the man, before revealing he had been locked up for 70 days. Rapping now recalls that, even though the man’s 70 days in jail without seeing an attorney was troubling, the most disturbing realization was that no one in the room seemed fazed by the man’s situation, not even his lawyer. As Rapping visited other jurisdictions in the South, he saw the same story over and over again. As troubling as the actions of judges and prosecutors were to Rapping, it was the lack of outrage by the defenders that convinced Rapping of the need to change the culture of indigent defense in the South. The result is the Southern Public Defender Training Center (SPDTC).
The SPDTC’s objective is simple: to build a community of zealous, committed public defen
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