Today representatives of the Fresno County Public Defender joined the Board of Supervisors in proclaiming March 20, 2018, National Public Defense Day and the week of March 18-24, Public Defense Week in the County.
This week marks the 55th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, and the third nationwide celebration of Public Defense Week. The Fresno County Public Defender’s Office is joining forces with national, state and county public defense offices and other defense organizations to celebrate and commemorate this historic event.
The landmark case of Gideon v. Wainright, decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1963, established the right to counsel for people too poor to afford to hire a lawyer. The Fresno County Public Defender’s Office opened its doors on November 1, 1967 and has been in existence for the past 50 years where it continues to provide legal representation to those in need in criminal defense for both adults and juveniles.
“Our mission is to vigorously protect and defend the rights of our clients as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” says Fresno County Public Defender, Liz Diaz. “Our goal is to provide full and fair legal representation with respect and compassion for all. Each member of our office contributes to the legal representation of our clients, which truly makes a difference in their lives.”
Whether public defenders, private defense attorneys, paralegals, investigators, legal processors, secretaries, social workers or private advocates, all serve to protect against social injustice, abuse of power, inequities, and inequality, working tirelessly to advocate for people in order to restore and affirm their human dignity and values, and to vindicate their legal and human rights.
National Public Defense Week serves to highlight the important, dedicated, excellent and diligent work that everyone in the public defense community conducts on behalf of their clients. In recognition of this week, the Fresno County Public Defender’s Office encourages residents to:
- Join in spreading the word of the importance of equal and social justice.
- Uphold and embrace the principles behind the Constitution
- Stop and reflect on the importance of indigent defense work and share stories on how dedicated staff tipped the scales of justice to make this world a better place.
- Tell a story that humanizes someone and illustrates how those represented are not the stereotype often depicted.
- Impart to someone that his or her life really matters.
- Convey to a public defender or staff member that they are doing a great job.
- Express to friends, family, colleagues, clients and the world why and how the work of public defenders matters.