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Public Defender

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NEWS
April 18, 1986 | By Kim Zimmerman, Special to The Inquirer
In an attempt to ease a backlog of court cases, the Woodbury Heights Council voted 4-2 on Wednesday to hire the township's first public defender. Council President Raymond Groller read a letter from David Keyko, the township judge, stating that a number of cases had been postponed in recent months because the township lacked a public defender. The municipality must provide an attorney if the defendant cannot afford one in cases involving more than $200, the letter said. "With the mandatory drunk-driving fines now so high, this involves a lot of cases," said Groller, a Republican.
NEWS
February 24, 2012
Keir Bradford-Grey, the assistant federal public defender in Delaware, has been named Montgomery County's chief public defender. She assumes office April 1, replacing Stephen G. Heckman. Bradford-Grey has 13 years' experience as a public defender. She becomes the first African American woman to head a department in the county government. Josh Shapiro, chairman of the board of commissioners, said Bradford-Grey's "vision for the office and commitment to defending the indigent will help ensure that justice in Montgomery County is efficient and effective.
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.
NEWS
November 15, 2000 | By Louise Harbach, INQUIRER SUBURBAN STAFF
New Jersey Public Defender Ivelisse "Ivy" Torres, 48, the highest-ranking Hispanic official in state government, died of pancreatic cancer Sunday. In July 1997, Ms. Torres, of Shrewsbury, Monmouth County, became the first career public defender to ascend to the top post in the state's Office of the Public Defender, which was created in 1967. "Ivy Torres was an extraordinary public servant and a special human being," said Gov. Whitman, who appointed her. "New Jersey is a better place because of her. " After beginning her career as a law guardian attorney and senior trial lawyer in the Public Defender Camden County Regional Office in 1979, she worked in the Union County regional office before transferring to the Ocean County office in 1987.
NEWS
December 4, 1986 | By Jane M. Von Bergen, Inquirer Staff Writer
H. Ian Wachstein, the deputy public defender who has headed Camden County's public defender's office since 1972, will be demoted as part of statewide changes being made in the public defender's office by New Jersey Public Advocate Alfred A. Slocum. Beginning Jan. 1, Wachstein will no longer serve as the deputy public defender in the county. But Wachstein, 46, can continue to work in the New Jersey public defender system, although he said he had not talked fully about his options with Slocum.
NEWS
June 13, 1990 | By Sari Harrar, Special to The Inquirer
Municipal court clerk Dorothy Still says she has never liked Maple Shade's hunt-and-peck system for assigning attorneys to poor clients. And she's relieved that a change may be coming. "I have to call a lawyer to do something he probably won't get paid for," Still said. "Nobody minds. Nobody gets angry. . . . But I feel embarrassed sometimes. " For about a decade Maple Shade has relied on lawyers already scheduled for court to represent indigent defendants - usually for free.
NEWS
October 16, 1991 | By Dianna Marder, Inquirer Staff Writer
It comes down to this: Attorneys in the Camden Office of the Public Defender are being asked to take time off without pay, and clients are being asked to pay a new $50 administrative fee - all part of an effort throughout state government to avoid layoffs. The prospect of an unwanted, unpaid vacation seemed remote to many workers in July when Gov. Florio's office asked department heads to find ways to reduce their budgets. The legislature had approved a $253 million cut in state spending through layoffs, attrition, early retirement and furloughs.
NEWS
May 18, 2014 | By Ben Finley, Inquirer Staff Writer
Don Tollefson's income has taken a big hit since he left Fox29 in 2008, when he was making nearly $5,000 a week. The former sportscaster is now pulling in about $2,654 a month in disability payments. He's got $1,200 in his checking account, and a $100,000 balance of credit with his bank that he's months behind on paying. His house in Wyndmoor, Montgomery County, is $75,000 under water. But Tollefson still isn't poor enough for a public defender. A Bucks County Court judge on Friday ruled that Tollefson must hire private counsel to defend against charges he sold people more than $100,000 in bogus travel packages to sporting events.
NEWS
April 24, 1990 | By Ralph Cipriano, Inquirer Staff Writer
With his full gray beard and pin-stripe suits, Owen W. Nash looked like a college professor, colleagues said. So people who visited his private law office in Media were sometimes puzzled by the pictures of fighter jets that Mr. Nash hung on his walls. Only a few people who took the time to stare at the pictures figured out who the clean-shaven man in the flight suits was. Mr. Nash, 58, of Exton, an assistant public defender for Delaware County, and a decorated Navy fighter pilot, died Friday at Hahnemann University Hospital after suffering a heart attack.
NEWS
September 17, 1990 | By Jonathan Storm, Inquirer Staff Writer
Rosie O'Neill, 43, has a broken marriage, a well-meaning but presumptuous mother, a resentful office partner, an impossible job, an $80,000 Mercedes and, she complains, sagging breasts. She's trying to unload the car. Everything else, she's working on, with the help of her supportive sister, confused stepdaughter, gorgeous carpenter and expensive therapist. Sharon Gless plays Rosie, nee Fiona Rose O'Neill, a Beverly Hills-type lawyer who has left hefty legal fees behind to lend a hand as a public defender in The Trials of Rosie O'Neill, which premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on Channel 10. Most of the trials come outside the courtroom.
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ARTICLES BY DATE
NEWS
August 22, 2015 | By Walter F. Naedele, Inquirer Staff Writer
They met at Dirty Frank's, the storied taproom at 13th and Pine Streets in Center City, on June 7, 1997. Terry Lytle was a lawyer in the Office of the Public Defender in Camden. Teresa Gimenez was an accounts coordinator for an advertising agency in Narberth. "His father had passed away a week before, and his colleagues had taken him out for drinks," Gimenez said. "I was with a girlfriend, and we made a point of not talking to any guys," she said. "At the end of the night, there was a Guinness promotion, and they gave out shirts and I put one on. "And he patted me on the back and said, 'That's a nice shirt.' " They were married on Jan. 5, 2001, at a Cistercian monastery in her hometown of Barcelona, Spain.
NEWS
June 24, 2015 | By Chris Palmer, Inquirer Staff Writer
A 25-year-old Langhorne man pleaded guilty Monday to third-degree murder for fatally stabbing his uncle during a drunken altercation on New Year's Eve, prosecutors said. Kyle Simpson received a prison sentence of 13 to 26 years from Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr., said Michele Walsh, a Bucks County assistant district attorney. "This was a tragedy for the entire family," Walsh said after the hearing. Simpson's public defender could not be reached for comment. Simpson was intoxicated Dec. 31 at the home he shared with his uncle when he retrieved a black hunting knife from his bedroom, authorities said.
NEWS
June 21, 2015 | By Dylan Purcell, Inquirer Staff Writer
A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge on Friday reversed 58 convictions tied to an embattled ex-narcotics officer and his squad. The overturned cases, linked to six former Philadelphia narcotics officers acquitted of federal corruption charges in May, are the latest to be reversed. They amount to a fraction of the convictions being challenged by the Public Defender's Office. Friday's rulings by Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper also marked the first time cases of alleged drug dealers and users were reversed en masse since the squad, led by Thomas Liciardello, was cleared by a jury of criminal wrongdoing.
NEWS
August 16, 2014 | By Troy Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
After last year's showdown between City Council and Mayor Nutter over the best way to provide lawyers to the city's indigent defendants, the two sides are now talking and hope they can come to an agreement soon. Councilman Dennis O'Brien, who last year led the charge against an administration effort to hire a private law firm to represent the poor in so-called conflict cases, recently won a federal grant to study the issue. The Sixth Amendment Center, a Boston-based nonprofit, received the grant money and plans to issue a report on the city's best options by October or earlier, executive director David J. Carroll said.
NEWS
May 18, 2014 | By Ben Finley, Inquirer Staff Writer
Don Tollefson's income has taken a big hit since he left Fox29 in 2008, when he was making nearly $5,000 a week. The former sportscaster is now pulling in about $2,654 a month in disability payments. He's got $1,200 in his checking account, and a $100,000 balance of credit with his bank that he's months behind on paying. His house in Wyndmoor, Montgomery County, is $75,000 under water. But Tollefson still isn't poor enough for a public defender. A Bucks County Court judge on Friday ruled that Tollefson must hire private counsel to defend against charges he sold people more than $100,000 in bogus travel packages to sporting events.
NEWS
May 7, 2014 | By Marie McCullough, Inquirer Staff Writer
John G. McDougall, 82, whose storied legal career in Delaware County included a 12-year battle that cleared a teenager convicted of murder, died Thursday, May 1, at Kindred Acute Care in Havertown of complications from a fall. Until that fall about a month ago, he worked full time at Minisec Inc., the offender rehabilitation-services company he founded in 1995 with son Sean and daughter Colleen Marsini. Mr. McDougall, who lived most recently in Wallingford, was appointed Delaware County's first public defender in the late 1970s.
NEWS
April 8, 2014 | By Carolyn Davis, Inquirer Staff Writer
Taneshia Quannay Darden was 14 when she snatched a purse off a woman's shoulder in a Norristown alley. Darden's life on the run lasted a few steps - literally. A police van pulled into the alley seconds after the misdeed was done. Darden, now 19, admits that it was a stupid choice and that she never considered how it could affect her later in life. "I didn't really think too far ahead," she said. Many 14-year-olds - many children of any age, according to research on brain development - don't.
NEWS
March 28, 2014 | By Ben Finley, Inquirer Staff Writer
Former Philadelphia sportscaster Don Tollefson will be released from jail Friday and transferred to an inpatient drug-treatment facility as he awaits trial on felony fraud charges involving an alleged travel-package scam, officials said. The petition to release Tollefson was filed by a public defender - not the two high-profile attorneys who flanked him at his arraignment in Warminster in February, according to court documents. Bucks County Judge James McMaster granted the order on Tuesday, reducing Tollefson's bail from $10,000 to zero.
NEWS
January 14, 2014 | By Troy Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA Talk about conflict. The Nutter administration expects to sign a contract as soon as this week to hire a private law firm to represent the poor in cases where the public defender has a conflict. But critics - including the private lawyers who now handle the cases, and some members of City Council - say the change threatens to throw the entire justice system into chaos. Samuel C. Stretton, a local lawyer who has defended indigent clients for decades, said he would file a lawsuit as soon as the contract is signed.
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.
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