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Agenda

Sept. 22-24, 2021

Marriott Marquis | Atlanta, GA

Wednesday, September 22

2:30 - 4:00 PM
Conference Registration
4:00 - 6:00 PM
Conference Introduction and Kickoff Reception
Welcoming and Explanation of Program Goals and Format
"The Role of Race in the Justice System"
Jeffrey Robinson, Deputy Legal Director, ACLU - Keynote Address
Introduction by Cynthia Roseberry
7:30 - 9:00 PM
Social Justice Film Presentation

Thursday, September 23

8:00 - 9:00 AM
Breakfast
9:00 - 10:15 AM
Module 1 - Working with Clients and Communities
The importance of developing a strong attorney client relationship and working with communities to further the goals of our clients in civil rights and criminal cases
10:15 - 10:30 AM
Coffee Break
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Breakout Sessions
Breakout 1: "Client-Centered Lawyering: Developing a Strong Attorney Client Relationship"
Breakout 2: "Movement Lawyering: Building Alliances With Communities We Serve"
12:30 - 2:00 PM
Thursday Luncheon Presentation
"Reforming Criminal Justice and Civil Rights Laws"
Introduction by Tiffany Cochran
Video Appearance by Bernice Donald, 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
2:00 - 2:15 PM
Break
2:15 - 3:30 PM
Module 2 - Holding Law Enforcement Accountable
The use of pretrial motions in criminal cases and civil rights lawsuits to hold police officers accountable
3:30 - 3:45 PM
Coffee Break
3:45 - 5:15 PM
Breakout Sessions
Breakout 1: "Effective Criminal Motions Practice"
Breakout 2: "Police Civil Rights Litigation"
8:00 - 11:00 PM
Legal Summit Social Event

Friday, September 24

8:00- 9:00 AM
Breakfast
9:00 - 10:15 AM
Module 3 - The Power of Storytelling
 Developing case themes and theories in criminal and civil rights cases for use at trial and in the media
10:15 - 10:30 AM
Coffee Break
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Breakout Sessions
Breakout 1: "Storytelling in the Courtroom"
Breakout 2: "Effective Use of the Media"
12:00 - 12:30 PM
Provided Lunch Pick-up
12:30 - 1:45 PM
Friday Luncheon Presentation
Closing Keynote Address
"The Work of Gideon's Promise"
Jon Rapping and Ilham Askia
1:45 - 2:00 PM
Closing Remarks

Gideon's Promise

On March 18, 1963, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, unanimously holding that defendants facing severe criminal charges in the United States have the right to counsel at state expense if they cannot afford one. In the time that has passed since Gideon, it has been demonstrated that effective legal assistance for all persons charged with crimes is vital in protecting justice and fairness in the criminal process. On the 50th anniversary of Gideon, the Justice Department reiterated its commitment to supporting the highest standards in criminal defense.

Founded as a non-profit in 2007 by Jonathan Rapping as the Southern Public Defender Training Center (SPDTC) with a fellowship from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, Gideon’s Promise was created to answer the need for training and mentorship for public defenders working in under-resourced communities in the South. 

In 2010, the SPDTC received its non-profit designation under the name Gideon’s Promise. Gideon’s Promise has since grown from a singular training program for 16 attorneys in two public defender offices in Georgia and Louisiana to a national non-profit organization with over 1,000 participants from 104 partner, statewide, and affiliate offices across 29 states and the United States Virgin Islands.
In 2013, the documentary Gideon’s Army was released, which followed the personal stories of three public defenders who are a part of a small group of idealistic lawyers in the Deep South that drive a criminal justice system strained to the breaking point. Backed by Jonathan Rapping, a charismatic leader who heads the SPDTC (known as Gideon’s Promise), they struggle against long hours, low pay, and staggering caseloads to ensure justice is served for America’s forgotten poor.

In May 2020, Gideon’s Promise: A Public Defender Movement to Transform Criminal Justice was published. Combining wisdom drawn from over 12 years as a public defender and cutting-edge research in organizational and cultural psychology, Jonathan Rapping reveals the prevalent issues ingrained in our current system of public defense and lays the foundation for how model public defense programs should work to end mass incarceration. This book offers an evolutionary shift for how poor, dispirited populations interact with the law.
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