FDA at 20: Reflections on the 20th Anniversary of the Fair Defense Act

This virtual event centered on the past, present and future of the Fair Defense Act and public defense in Texas.

Watch the recording of the event on YouTube.


9:00-9:20 Opening Remarks

Commissioner Rodney Ellis Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 1
Judge Sharon Keller Presiding Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals; Chair, Texas Indigent Defense Commission

9:20-9:30 Interactive Session: Getting to Know Our Audience

9:30-10:00 The Past
A roundtable conversation about public defense in Texas before passage of the FDA, how the act was passed, and early progress after adoption of the law.

James Bethke Director, Bexar County Managed Assigned Counsel Office; Former Director, Texas Indigent Defense Commission
Commissioner Rodney Ellis Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 1
Andrea Marsh Director, Mithoff Pro Bono Program; Founding Executive Director, Texas Fair Defense Project
Jani Maselli Wood Harris County Public Defender’s Office; Chair, State Bar Committee on Legal Services to the Poor in Criminal Matters

10:00-10:10 Break

10:10-10:20 Interactive Session: How Well Do You Know Public Defense in Texas?

10:20-11:45 The Present
A series of short presentations highlighting current issues in public defense.

Geoff Burkhart Overview Executive Director, Texas Indigent Defense Commission
Kelli Childress Urban Public Defender Programs Chief Public Defender, El Paso County Public Defender Office
Nicole Maesse Rural Public Defender Programs Director, Public Defense Commission, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
Shannon Evans Managed Assigned Counsel Programs Director, Lubbock Private Defenders Office
Judge Chris Schuchart Public Defense Funding Medina County Judge
Nathan Fennell Public Defense Oversight Staff Attorney, Texas Fair Defense Project
Alex Bunin Caseloads and Performance Standards Chief Public Defender, Harris County Public Defender’s Office
Carrie Ellis Public Defense Mentoring Training Director, Harris County Office of Managed Assigned Counsel
Renee Danser Counsel at First Appearance Associate Director, the Access to Justice Lab at Harvard Law School
Krista Harvey Padilla/Immigration Consequences MyPadilla Immigration Attorney
Red Gilbert Peer Specialists Peer Specialist, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
Annette Price Community Engagement Co-Executive Director, Grassroots Leadership

11:45-12:00 Break

12:00-1:10 The Future
A panel discussion about the future of public defense defense in Texas.

Tiara Cooper Live Free Texas Organizer, Faith in Texas
Maggie Luna Hogg Foundation Peer Policy Fellow, Texas Center for Justice and Equity
Adeola Ogunkeyede Chief Public Defender, Travis County Public Defender’s Office
Joe Stephens Chief Public Defender, Concho Valley Public Defender Office
Amanda Woog Executive Director, Texas Fair Defense Project
Andrew Davies Moderator Director of Research, Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center

1:10-1:20 Interactive Session: Reflections and Where We’ll Go Next

1:20-1:30 Closing Remarks

The event has been approved for 3.5 CLE hours (1.0 hours ethics).