News Release

Patricia Puritz Named 2004 "Champion of Indigent Defense"

Tireless Juvenile Justice Advocate Raises Status, Quality of Juvenile Defense Services Throughout Country  

Washington, DC (October 25, 2004) -- The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) named Patricia Puritz as the 2004 “Champion of Indigent Defense.” Puritz has served as the Director of the American Bar Association Juvenile Justice Center since 1985.

“Over the past twenty years, Patty has been a true champion of juveniles charged in juvenile and criminal courts. The scope of her work, and the impact that she has had on improving the delivery of indigent defense services to children in the juvenile justice systems in every state, is unparalleled,” noted Northwestern University Law Professors Steven Drizin, Cathryn Crawford and Thomas F. Geraghty, who nominated Puritz for the award. Through her work, Puritz has “helped defenders access better resources for their clients, become better trained to serve their clients, and establish and build critical networks to improve the delivery of indigent defense services for children accused of committing crimes.”

As Director of the ABA Juvenile Justice Center, Puritz supervises the development of the National Juvenile Defender Training, Technical Assistance and Resource Center, which increases the capacity of the grassroots juvenile defense bar across the country. Puritz has overseen the release of 12 state reports on access to counsel and quality of representation in juvenile delinquency proceedings, each of which has sparked reform initiatives to improve juvenile representation in its respective area. In addition, Puritz is actively involved in efforts to abolish the juvenile death penalty.

“We are thrilled to recognize Patty Puritz by selecting her to receive the 2004 Champion of Indigent Defense Award,” noted NACDL Board Member Priscilla Forsyth, Sioux City, IA, who heads the award selection subcommittee. “Through her work with the ABA, Patty has brought juvenile justice issues to the forefront, ensuring that they remain a focal point of reform efforts. We hope this recognition encourages her in future endeavors, and that it also encourages others to put pressure on states to fulfill their constitutional obligations to provide every man, woman and child accused of a crime with an adequate defense.”

The NACDL Champion of Indigent Defense Award recognizes an individual each year for outstanding efforts in making positive changes to a local, state, or national indigent defense system. Prior recipients of the award include Mary Ann Tally (2001), for her efforts in reforming North Carolina’s indigent defense system and establishing a statewide indigent defense commission; Norman Reimer (2002), for his efforts to improve fees paid to assigned counsel in New York City, including a lawsuit in which the trial judge ordered the rates raised to $90/hour; and Gary Parker (2003), for his efforts in reforming Georgia’s indigent defense system and resulted in the establishment of a statewide public defender system. 

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NACDL Communications Department

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.