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Friday, November 8 • 4:15pm - 5:45pm
Appearance Advocacy: Using Technology to Engage Clients, Secure Better Dispositions, and Support Bail Reform

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Court appearance by clients has become critically important. Historically, appearance has always been significant, as a failure to do so often subjects a client, once at liberty, to pre-trial incarceration. Recent studies completed by Bail Fund’s across the country have shown how significant being at liberty pre-trial is in regard to case dispositions – more dismissals and non-jail dispositions for out of custody client. Given these results, ensuring a client’s presence in court should be an important part of client representation, but it is one often overlooked by attorneys. Additionally, on a more macro scale, the success of the bail reform movement is dependent on individuals at liberty pre-trial making their court appearances. Skeptics of bail reform are watching closely, at the ready to turn back the progress that has recently been accomplished with any increase in a jurisdiction's Failure to Appear rate. A return to the days where pre-trial incarceration is the default and not the exception yields no winners, both in terms of the financial cost and, more significantly, the damage incarceration inflicts on individuals and communities. The workshop will focus on an often overlooked part of client representation – appearance advocacy. Given the current findings regarding favorable outcomes for non-incarcerated clients and the serious consequences for missing court, public defenders need to give attention to getting clients to court. Given high caseloads and inadequate funding, public defenders are constrained in terms of time and resources. The workshop examines how technology can be used by public defenders as a time-saving, representation-enhancing tool to engage clients, strengthen communication, and remind clients of their appearance obligations. A discussion of the science behind text message reminders, participants will have a better understanding of the issues preventing clients from getting to court and how to best engage clients, thus increasing the likelihood a client will appear in court. The workshop will be led by a former public defender/manager of a holistic defender office with 17 years’ experience in the field and who currently works for a tech start-up focused on technological solutions public defenders can use as part of their representation of clients. Co-leading the panel will be a manager from a public defender office currently using text message reminders and who can discuss the positive impact technology has on client representation. Both presenters will discuss how public defenders should consider using technology to enhance their client representation and to support bail reform movements.


Seann Riley

Director of Partnerships, Uptrust

Ellen McDonnell

Deputy Public Defender, Contra Costa County Office of the Public Defender

Friday November 8, 2019 4:15pm - 5:45pm EST
Richard A 5th Floor

Attendees (8)