National Public Defender Week – March 18-24, 2018

March 20, 2018

National Public Defender Week – March 18-24, 2018

By Professor Kathleen Pozzi, Sonoma County Public Defender

Sunday, March 18th, marks the 55th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, and the third nationwide celebration of Public Defense week.  The Law Office of the Sonoma County Public Defender is joining forces with National, State and County wide public defense offices and other indigent defense organizations to celebrate and commemorate this historic event.

Fifty-five years ago, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided the landmark case of Gideon v Wainwright, a right to counsel for people too poor to afford to hire a lawyer, was established.  Our hope is to create public awareness to highlight the important, dedicated, excellent and diligent work that everyone in the indigent defense community does every day on behalf of our clients. Whether we are public defenders, private defense attorneys, paralegals, investigators, legal processors, secretaries, social workers or private advocates, we are all warriors against social injustice, abuse of power, inequities, and inequality. We work hard and advocate for people in order to restore and affirm their human dignity and values, and to vindicate their legal and human rights.

This week (and always), we encourage you to:

 J oin in with us to spread the word of the importance of equal and social justice.

phold and embrace the principles behind our Constitution.

top and reflect on the importance of this work and share stories on how you have experienced this dedicated staff tipping the scales of justice to make this world a better place.

ell a story that humanizes someone and illustrates how those represented are not the stereotype that are often times depicted in the media.

mpart to someone that his or her life really matters.

onvey to a public defender or staff member, that they are doing a great job.

xpress to your friends, family, colleagues, clients, and the world why and how our work matters.


Diane Aqui, Esq.

(Class of 2001)
Empire College gave me the opportunity to earn a Juris Doctorate while still working full time in my “first” career as an engineer. The professors are all practicing attorneys and judges and it is clear that they love what they do---guiding, teaching and mentoring a new group of potential lawyers, who one day will be their peers and practice alongside them in the legal community. I think one of my favorite cases since I graduated in 2001 was against a former Empire professor and I walked away with a win!

Andrew Conway, Esq.

(Class of 2014)
I decided to go to law school after interning for the Diversion program for the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office while I was in college. Empire provided me with friends who became colleagues, and Professors who became the Judges I appear in front of today. I have always wanted to work with the law and youth and I now manage a Dependency contract for Mendocino County, which has become my dream career as I get to do the exact job I wanted when I decided to go to law school. I definitely have my dream job thanks to Empire and their exceptional professors.

James V. Sansone, Esq.

(Class of 2006)
I picked Empire College because I had to juggle between family obligations and a fulltime job. Empire was the only option that allowed me to effectively manage my work and family obligations and still pursue a law degree. Thanks to Empire, I was able to pass the bar exam on my first try and begin a new, exciting, and lucrative legal career that I love.