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Defender Association

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December 11, 2014 | By Chris Mondics, Inquirer Staff Writer
Ellen Greenlee, the longtime head of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, who began her professional life as a high school language teacher and went on to develop and expand one of the nation's most prominent public-interest law agencies, on Tuesday announced her retirement effective March 1, 2015. Greenlee has served for 40 years with the association, which provides legal representation to thousands of low-income people in Philadelphia each year. For about 25 years, she has been chief defender.
NEWS
October 31, 1990 | By Fredric N. Tulsky, Inquirer Staff Writer
Ellen T. Greenlee has been appointed chief of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, the chairman of the association board said yesterday. Greenlee, a member of the association staff since she graduated from Villanova Law School in 1973, becomes the sixth chief of the office, and the first woman to hold that post in the 56-year history of the association. The Defender Association is involved in roughly two-thirds of the trials in the city's courts, representing indigent defendants in criminal cases other than murder.
NEWS
August 11, 2015 | By Laura McCrystal, Inquirer Staff Writer
The allegations were startling: Prosecutors said parents had starved their 6-year-old to the point that he looked like a child from a Third World country. But something didn't seem right to Keir Bradford-Grey, who was the new Montgomery County chief public defender when the case began in 2012. She dug into the case and learned that the boy had not been neglected, but had a medical condition that kept him from absorbing nutrients. After taking her findings to prosecutors, both sides agreed to a pre-trial diversion program so the family could stay together while officials monitored the boy's treatment.
NEWS
February 7, 1997 | By L. Stuart Ditzen, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Less than a month has passed since Judge Bernard J. Avellino abandoned his one-man strike and went to work "under protest" at the order of the state Supreme Court. Now there is a move afoot inside the Criminal Justice Center to get him out of his job. Daniel Walls, chief of the Defender Association's felony waiver unit, has requested Avellino's transfer, saying he has in effect sabotaged his assignment. Walls wrote a letter Tuesday to President Judge Alex Bonavitacola saying that Avellino, who is supposed to be presiding over nonjury trials in minor criminal cases, isn't doing so. Walls said Avellino has discouraged defendants from waiving jury trials and warned that any defendant who does "will get the sentence he deserves" if convicted.
NEWS
May 25, 2004 | By Jacqueline Soteropoulos INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Through 11 years of fighting on behalf of clients charged with murder, the Defender Association of Philadelphia has established a record its members don't much like to discuss. Since the association's homicide unit was founded in 1993, its lawyers have been assigned to 994 cases. Not one client has ever been sent to death row. It's a success rate that may be unequaled in the nation among other major public defenders' offices and that is especially startling in light of the aggressive pursuit of the death penalty by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.
NEWS
February 25, 2002
A column on the Feb. 15 Commentary Page misstated the title of Bradley S. Bridge. He is a senior lawyer with the Defender Association.
NEWS
February 20, 2016 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Staff Writer
Mayor Kenney has named veteran Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner as deputy managing director for criminal justice. Announcing the appointment Thursday, Kenney cited Lerner's decades of work in the criminal justice system, which includes 16 years as the judge who supervises pretrial matters in every homicide case in the city. "I am confident his passion and expertise will give him the ability to build on our current momentum surrounding the MacArthur grant proposal," the mayor said in a statement.
NEWS
May 7, 2012 | By Craig R. McCoy, Inquirer Staff Writer
Julian Shelton's most recent crime rampage unfolded this spring, police say. On March 15, he was arrested on charges of swiping $21 worth of merchandise from a store at 21st Street and Lehigh Avenue in North Philadelphia. Shelton immediately skipped court, only to be picked up the next month. This time, police accused him of taking $20 from a new victim at knifepoint. In the past, alleged robbers such as Shelton typically faced no consequences for ducking court. Even when arrested for a new crime, they were simply given a new court date and set free.
NEWS
July 11, 2013 | By Curtis Skinner, Inquirer Staff Writer
It took Michelle Dargan, 52, two decades to find a second chance. She ran with the wrong crowd in high school, she said. She did speed and drank Thunderbird. Sexual abuse and a son soon followed. Her reliance on drugs and alcohol increased and led her to a life on Kensington Avenue - and quite an arrest record. Starting in 1989, she was arrested for prostitution 17 times and convicted seven. She hadn't been off probation since, she said, until now. She's on a new path, thanks to the public defender who referred her last year to Project Dawn Court, an alternative justice and rehabilitation program that aims to address the problems that lead women to and trap them in prostitution.
NEWS
June 7, 1989 | By Kit Konolige, Daily News Staff Writer
Minority lawyers, social and clerical workers have charged that the Defender's Office, which represents a criminal court clientele that is 80 percent minority, discriminates against its own staff. A group of the minority employees has filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charging the Defender's Office with a pattern and practice of racial discrimination. Yesterday, four attorneys in the group made public a letter they sent to chief Public Defender Benjamin Lerner on May 24, denouncing him for the alleged discrimination in the office.
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NEWS
February 20, 2016 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Staff Writer
Mayor Kenney has named veteran Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner as deputy managing director for criminal justice. Announcing the appointment Thursday, Kenney cited Lerner's decades of work in the criminal justice system, which includes 16 years as the judge who supervises pretrial matters in every homicide case in the city. "I am confident his passion and expertise will give him the ability to build on our current momentum surrounding the MacArthur grant proposal," the mayor said in a statement.
NEWS
August 11, 2015 | By Laura McCrystal, Inquirer Staff Writer
The allegations were startling: Prosecutors said parents had starved their 6-year-old to the point that he looked like a child from a Third World country. But something didn't seem right to Keir Bradford-Grey, who was the new Montgomery County chief public defender when the case began in 2012. She dug into the case and learned that the boy had not been neglected, but had a medical condition that kept him from absorbing nutrients. After taking her findings to prosecutors, both sides agreed to a pre-trial diversion program so the family could stay together while officials monitored the boy's treatment.
NEWS
April 21, 2015 | By Linda Loyd, Inquirer Staff Writer
Jerold G. Klevit, 77, an administrative law judge who handled workers compensation cases for 30 years for the state of Pennsylvania, died Friday, April 17, of kidney failure at Abington Hospital. He lived at Rydal Park in Jenkintown. Born in Washington, Mr. Klevit moved when he was 8 to West Oak Lane. He graduated from Central High School, then Lehigh University in 1959, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1962. After serving as a law clerk for a federal judge in Wilmington, Mr. Klevit joined the Philadelphia firm Lipschultz & Chalfin in 1963.
BUSINESS
December 11, 2014 | By Chris Mondics, Inquirer Staff Writer
Ellen Greenlee, the longtime head of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, who began her professional life as a high school language teacher and went on to develop and expand one of the nation's most prominent public-interest law agencies, on Tuesday announced her retirement effective March 1, 2015. Greenlee has served for 40 years with the association, which provides legal representation to thousands of low-income people in Philadelphia each year. For about 25 years, she has been chief defender.
NEWS
July 9, 2014 | By Chris Palmer, Inquirer Staff Writer
Mandatory minimum sentences for gun- and drug-related offenses are in limbo across Pennsylvania, delaying trials and causing confusion in hundreds of cases as courts grapple with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued last year. Despite the frustrations, some in the legal community are hoping the turbulence will draw fresh attention to a hotly disputed practice and stimulate further debate. The issue bubbled up in Bucks County in June, when five county judges signed an opinion siding with an alleged heroin dealer whose attorney had argued that the mandatory minimum sentences she was facing were unconstitutional.
NEWS
January 8, 2014 | BY DANA DiFILIPPO, Daily News Staff Writer difilid@phillynews.com, 215-854-5934
THE MORNING OF FEB. 7, Rasheed Kellam had a full schedule. He picked up his tax-refund check, visited his doctor, cashed the check, checked in with his parole officer, grabbed his blood-pressure medication from Rite Aid and got a hot dog at 7-Eleven. Then, steps outside his Feltonville home, he got arrested. For nearly a year, he sat in a city jail, unsure why exactly. In that time, a secret grand jury investigated and eventually indicted him in a home-invasion robbery targeting a couple who lived a half-mile away from him.   An easy alibi Two months before his trial, prosecutors sent Kellam's lawyer the evidence they had against him - which became the key to his exoneration.
NEWS
October 10, 2013 | By Karen Heller, Inquirer Columnist
The Nutter administration plans to pay $9.5 million annually to a law firm that would represent the poor in cases where the Defender Association of Philadelphia has a conflict. It would replace the current network of more than 300 outside lawyers at multiple firms. This is a profound mistake, because the firm would replace a broken model with a cheaper one and expect better results. Outside counsel is assigned when there are multiple defendants or the client is a witness in an existing case.
NEWS
October 8, 2013 | By Troy Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Nutter administration is poised to pay $9.5 million to hire a private law firm to represent the poor in cases where the public defender has a conflict, despite the protests of the Philadelphia Bar Association, City Council members, and many of the private attorneys who now handle indigent clients. In recent years, court-appointed attorneys have taken as many as 27,000 cases that the Defender Association of Philadelphia could not. Typically, less than a fourth of those cases are criminal matters.
NEWS
July 11, 2013 | By Curtis Skinner, Inquirer Staff Writer
It took Michelle Dargan, 52, two decades to find a second chance. She ran with the wrong crowd in high school, she said. She did speed and drank Thunderbird. Sexual abuse and a son soon followed. Her reliance on drugs and alcohol increased and led her to a life on Kensington Avenue - and quite an arrest record. Starting in 1989, she was arrested for prostitution 17 times and convicted seven. She hadn't been off probation since, she said, until now. She's on a new path, thanks to the public defender who referred her last year to Project Dawn Court, an alternative justice and rehabilitation program that aims to address the problems that lead women to and trap them in prostitution.
NEWS
March 21, 2013 | By Mike Newall, Inquirer Staff Writer
James Cheatham is a forgiving man, but after getting robbed of $60 on his birthday while trying to perform an act of kindness, he had little reservation about testifying in court. Plus, the 45-year-old father of three from Queen Village had a subpoena to show up in court about the September incident, and he knew he couldn't ignore it. Which is why Cheatham was confused when, he says, a public defender called him twice before a scheduled February trial to tell him he didn't have to worry about court - that there was nothing a judge would do if he didn't show.
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