I believe public defenders are placed in courtrooms where there is already a backlog, which means that there are big cases that have been sitting on a judge’s calendar or docket for years. I have been in this situation for the last three years, and I call it ‘backlog caseload.’ Since I am the only public defender assigned to my courtroom, this has been very difficult to navigate. Due to massive neglect within the criminal legal system, the courts continue to add more and more cases, which ultimately impacts my ability to support my clients effectively and compassionately. I find it interesting that my clients seem to be more aware of my time constraints than the system cares to notice. I have moments when I feel like I am free enough to really explore a client’s case, and it is my client that worries that I am too busy to work with them. It is in those moments when I must remind them that this is YOUR time, and I am here for you.
I feel that Gideon’s Promise gave me more confidence. Especially when it comes to working in a public defender office. It becomes so easy to lose empathy for our clients due to the workload, but now I know how to avoid getting trapped in the day-to-day frustrations, and to represent people in the way that they deserve. Thankfully, Gideon’s Promise gave me the skills and confidence to meaningfully defend my clients. I feel like Gideon’s Promise also made me a better person in my own right. I learned how to draw from my own strength to understand the significance of authentically representing my clients and amplifying their voices to ensure they are seen and treated like human beings.
Meghan Collier l Public Defender l Atlanta, GA
A Change is Coming
We defend our most vulnerable communities from the effects of mass incarceration — keeping families together with dignity.
To transform the criminal justice system by building a movement of public defenders who provide equal justice for marginalized communities.
We envision a nation where every person has access to zealous, outstanding representation necessary to ensure “equal justice for all” in the criminal justice arena.