Indiana Task Force on Public Defense

About the Task Force

A detailed report on Indiana’s public defense system issued last fall by the Sixth Amendment Center of Boston, Massachusetts has raised serious concerns about the way in which defense services are delivered in Indiana. A second report, the result of a federal planning grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), called into question how youth in the delinquency system in Indiana are represented, and in some cases, not represented. The recent, dramatic increase in our state’s CHINS and TPR filings have created greater demand for representation and placed a strain on many of our local defender systems and county budgets.  In response, these issues and others will be the focus on a new task force on public defense created by the Indiana Public Defender Commission.

The Commission is tasked with making recommendations regarding the provision of indigent defense in Indiana, and for this reason has taken the lead to assemble a diverse group of leaders to further study these concerns and develop findings and recommendations. The Indiana Task Force on Public Defense is chaired by the Honorable Judge John Tinder, and includes 16 other members from all three branches of government, as well as various other stakeholder groups.  Judge Tinder assumed leadership of the group after the recent unexpected death of Judge Larry McKinney.  The group will conduct a series of meetings over the next year.  It will also invite public comment and intends to hold a series of hearings around the state.

Read the full announcement from Chairperson Rutherford here

Quick Links:

Listening Tour
Task Force News
 Next Meeting Date 
Future Meetings
Previous Meeting Materials
Task Force Members

Latest Updates

Save the Date - Register to attend the Listening Tour

Your input is needed--click here to learn more about how to provide input on the state of public defense in Indiana.

Read Recent Editorial by Task Force Member

View an editorial by Executive Director of the Indiana Public Defender about the importance of public defenders as defenders of liberty here.

Journal-Gazette publishes Opinion Piece on Task Force

Read the opinion piece "A needed look at Indiana's legal aid" here.

Task force announces new chair after passing of Judge McKinney

Former Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John Tinder announced that he has accepted the invitation of the Commission to step into the role of chair to replace Judge Larry McKinney. In part, it is a tribute to his friend and colleague with whom he shared the bench for many years. Read the full press release here.

Next meeting Information

The next meeting of the Task Force will be April 20, 2018 from 1 p.m. - 3 p.m. at  309 West Washington Street, Suite 501. For more information on attending please contact

Task Force Open for Public Comment

The Task Force seeks input from a variety of stakeholders regarding their experience with public defense in Indiana. Scroll down to learn how to submit your comments by e-mail to or via mail.


Listening Tour Dates

The Indiana Task Force on Public Defense will be hosting a listening tour at locations around the State. You are invited to provide your input at any of the following locations. Space at each location is limited to 50 participants, so please register at the links provided below. If you are unable to provide input on these dates, please contact Kathleen Casey at or 317-650-8043 as special arrangements can be arranged to hear your thoughts.

2/9/18 – Indianapolis

  • Location: Indiana Government Center, Conference Rooms 4 & 5
  • Time of Event: 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
  • Read the Transcript of the meeting here.

2/15/18 – Fort Wayne

3/20/18 – Evansville

3/22/18 – Clark County

3/27/18 – Valparaiso

  • Location: Valparaiso Law School
  • Time of Event: Cancelled
  • Register here: Cancelled

3/31/18 – Gary

Submit Your Comments to the Task Force

The Task Force seeks input from a variety of stakeholders regarding their experience with public defense in Indiana. The Task Force will accept public comments. Please forward your comments to If you wish to mail your comments, please mail to:

Indiana Task Force on Public Defense
309 West Washington Street
Suite 501
Indianapolis, IN 46204

If you wish to remain anonymous, please indicate this in your e-mail. Please note that this e-mail address should not be used to inquire about upcoming court dates, or for specific questions about a particular criminal case.

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Task Force In The News

Feburary 19, 2018, Indiana Public Media. "Number of Kids in Child Welfare System Strains Public Defenders."

Feburary 15, 2018, The Journal-Gazette. "Crisis mentality: Indigent defense issues get needed attention."

January 25, 2018, The Indiana Lawyer. "Public defender task force announces listening tour."

January 8, 2018, Indiana public Media. "Appeal Planned On Lawsuit Challenging public Defender System."

January 2, 2018, Indiana Public Media. "Court Upholds Dismissal Of Johnson Co. Public Defense Suit."

December 13, 2017, The Indiana Lawyer.  "Task force researches improving Indiana's public defender system."

December 12, 2017, Pharos-Tribune Logansport. "Lawsuit may prompt public defender rule changes."

December 8, 2017, The Indiana Lawyer. "COA hears challenge to Johnson County public defender system."

October 26, 2017, The Journal-Gazette. "A needed look at Indiana's legal aid."

September 20, 2017, "Former Zionsville mayor named to Indiana Task Force on Public Defense."

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Sixth Meeting

April 20, 2018
1 p.m. - 3 p.m.
309 West Washington Street, Suite 501
PDC Conference Room
Indianapolis, IN 46204

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Future Meetings

Friday, April 20 - 1:00 - 3:00

Friday, May 25 - 10:00 - 12:00

Friday, July 20 - 10:00 - 12:00

Friday, August 24 - 10:00 - 12:00

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February 9, 2018 meeting materials:
January 26, 2018 meeting with Chief Public Defenders:
December 8, 2017 meeting materials:
Indicators of Success
October 27, 2017 meeting materials:
September 8, 2017 meeting materials:

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Resources and Links

Indiana's Public Defense Delivery System
Right to Counsel in Indiana:  Evaluation of Trial Level Services – Sixth Amendment Center (2016)
Executive Summary – Sixth Amendment Center (2016)
In Re: Request for Rule Making Concerning the Marion County Public Defender System
Evaluation of Partial State Funding for Public Defender Services in Indiana (1986)
Report of the Commission on Public Defenders of the Indianapolis Bar Association (1991)
Structure and Funding for Criminal Defense of Indigents in Indiana (1974)

Indiana Juvenile Defense Delivery System
Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation

Indiana Post-Trial Services
Public Defender of Indiana

DOJ/National Resources
Hurrell Harrington v. State of New York
Kuren v. Lucerne County - DOJ Statement of Interest
N.P. v. State of Georgia - DOJ Statement of Interest
Public Defense Expenditures - Office of Justice Programs, Department of Justice
Tucker v. State of Idaho - DOJ Statement of Interest
Wilbur v. City of Mount Vernon - DOJ  Statement of Interest

National Standards and Links

Overall Principles of Criminal Defense Reform
Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System
ABA Criminal Defense Standards for the Defense Function
Standards for the Administration of Assigned Counsel Systems
Gideon's Broken Promise: America's Continuing Quest for Equal Justice - American Bar Association

Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel - Report of the National Right to Counsel Committee

Juvenile Standards
National Juvenile Defense Standards, NJDC (2012)
Ten Core Principles for Providing Quality Delinquency Representation Through Public Defense Delivery Systems, National Juvenile Defender Center & National Legal Aid and Defender Association (2008)

Appellate Standards
Standards and Evaluation Design for Appellate Defender Services

Standards for Parent Representation
ABA Standards of Practice for Attorneys Representing Parents in Abuse and Neglect Cases
Indicators for Success for Parent Representation – American Bar Association
High Quality Legal Representation for All Parties in Child Welfare Proceedings, Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Guidance Memo
ABA National Project to Improve Representation for Parents
Timely Permanency or Unnecessary Removal?: Tips for Advocates for Children Who Spend Less Than 30 Days in Foster Care

Minor Crimes, Massive Waste - NACDL

Public Defender Caseloads
Securing Reasonable Caseloads - Full Book
Securing Reasonable Caseloads - Executive Summary
Eight Guidelines of Public Defense Related to Excessive Workloads

ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility Formal Opinion 06-441

Other State Evaluations

Denial of the Right to Counsel in Misdemeanor Cases: Court Watching in Nashville, Tennessee

NLADA Report - Michigan

Sixth Amendment Center - Mississippi Evaluation

International Standards and Links

United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems

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Judge John Daniel Tinder, Chair
(Ret.) 7th Circuit Court of Appeals


Roderick E. Bohannan
Project Director
Indiana Legal Services, Inc.

Judson McMillin
Mullin McMillin & Rychener

David Bottorff, Executive Director
Association of Indiana Counties

Dr. Jeff Papa
Barnes and Thornburg

Senator Rodric Bray
Chair, Senate Judiciary Committee
Indiana State House

Rep. Gregory W. Porter
State Representative
Indiana State House

Judge Vicki Carmichael
Clark Circuit Court
VP, Indiana Judges Association

Professor Joel Schumm
Clinical Professor and Director of Experiential Learning
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Honorable Mary Ellen Diekhoff
Indiana Public Defender Commission
Monroe Circuit Court

Judge Mary Willis
Chief Administrative Officer
Office of Court Services
Indiana Supreme Court

Monica Foster
Chief Federal Defender
Indiana Federal Community Defenders

Andrea D. Lyon
Dean and Professor of Law
Valparaiso University Law School

Justice Christopher M. Goff
Indiana Supreme Court

Stephen P. Luce
Executive Director
Indiana Sheriffs' Association

Joseph R. Heerens
General Counsel
Office of Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb

Larry Landis
Executive Director
Indiana Public Defender Council
  Task Force Staff:
Kim Tandy, Technical Advisor
Kathleen Casey, Staff Attorney
           Public Defender Commission

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Advisors to Task Force:

Professor and Dean Emeritus Norm Lefstein
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Judge Carr Darden
Indiana Court of Appeals