Santa Clara County Judicial Candidates Asked to Respond to Issues of Homelessness

Stop the Ban coalition members Aram James and Edie Keating discuss issues with judicial candidate Annrae Angel (in center)

Stop the Ban coalition members Aram James and Edie Keating discuss issues with judicial candidate Annrae Angel (in center)

On May 18th, the Stop the Ban Coalition (STB) — a broad coalition of groups opposed to criminalizing the homeless — held a judicial candidate forum in Palo Alto, CA. Annrae Angel was the only candidate to attend, and she along with candidate Julianne Sylva submitted written responses presented by coalition member Aram James. The forum, and written correspondence, is precedent setting in that it serves as the first time judicial candidates were asked to respond to the homeless community and advocates. Click here to read candidate responses to questions…

Returning Gideon’s Trumpet: Telling the Story in the Context of Today’s Criminal Justice Crisis (By Jonathan Rapping)

rapspicJonathan Rapping, Founder of Gideon’s Promise, recently sent us a piece he wrote for the Texas Law Review. The writing is a compelling canvassing and analysis of the criminal justice system, as well as a call to action on the significant role public defenders must play in order to stop mass incarceration. 

I. Introduction

Anthony Lewis was a masterful storyteller.  He used his skills to raise public awareness about some of our nation’s most important constitutional principles and to show how Supreme Court pronouncements translate into the realization of ideals that are fundamental to our democracy.  Nowhere is Lewis’s talent and influence more evident than in his work, Gideon’s Trumpet, the David-and-Goliath story behind one of the nation’s most important criminal procedure cases, Gideon v. Wainwright,[1] which ruled that any defendant in a criminal trial should be given a lawyer to defend him.[2]  This book, and a subsequent Hollywood movie based on it,[3] taught the public about the Court’s attempt to address a basic unfairness in our criminal justice system.  At a time when America was struggling to deal with a history of injustice in so many realms, Gideon’s Trumpet shined a light on one of the country’s most oppressive institutions, and it gave us hope that we could correct its deficiencies. Continue reading

Watch De-Bug’s Webinar on Producing Social Biography Videos to Impact Cases

Through the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, De-Bug’s ACJP recently gave a webinar to attorneys, organizations, and academics on how we started producing social biography videos to impact cases — and how they can too. There were 18 states represented on the webinar, and we are grateful for their participation and interest. The NLADA recorded the session and it is posted below. If you are interested in a training, or have a case you think would benefit from a video, just email us at:

The Parable of Cornealious “Mike” Anderson” and Challenging Mandatory Sentences

By Raj Jayadev

Prison No ShowThe story of Cornealious “Mike” Anderson, the convicted Missouri man who, because of a state Department of Corrections error, lived free for the 13 years of his prescribed prison sentence, sparked a national debate: Should a rehabilitated man be sent to prison?

As Anderson awaited a judge’s decision about his fate, some argued he must fulfill his original sentence, while others argued he should not be responsible for the state’s incompetence and that his 13 years of good citizenship should serve as reparation to society.

On Monday, May 5, 2014, the judge declared Anderson – who has four children, owns a carpentry contracting company, volunteers at his church and coaches Little League – a “good man” and a free man. Continue reading

De-Bug’s ACJP Gives Webinar on ‘Social Biography Videos’ to Impact Cases

Special thanks to the National Legal Aid and Defender Association for inviting us to give a webinar to their members and the larger legal community this Thursday on May 8th at 11am PST. We will be sharing the concept, discussion specific case examples, the production process, and how the videos were used to secure sought after case resolutions. Below is more info, and click here to find out how to sign up in advance!

NLADA Webinar: Creating Social Biography Videos to Humanize Clients for Better Case Resolutions

Thursday, May 8, 2:00 PM Eastern 


The Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project (ACJP), a media and community advocacy project, will give a webinar on how public defenders can create “social biography videos” to humanize clients for purposes of impacting sentencing, plea-negotiations, and more.

The webinar will discuss specific case examples, the production process, and how the videos were used to secure sought after case resolutions. Technology has become cheaper, more accessible, and has created new avenues for client’s stories to be shared in the court system. The webinar will share how defender offices can produce social biography videos using limited resources, and how staff without any previous experience can be trained quickly to create effective videos.

rjpicPresenter: The project director, Raj Jayadev, is the coordinator of ACJP, a community organizing model for families and communities to partner with public defenders to impact court cases.

ACJP is housed at Silicon Valley De-Bug. Jayadev developed the project as a Soros Justice Fellow, and he and his staff have been creating social biography videos for public defenders for a number of years to great success. The videos have resulted in securing favorable plea negotiations, lowered sentences, even post-conviction relief.

Family Wins Historic Dismissal of Juvenile Case in Santa Clara County

courtney2This mom and daughter first came to De-Bug about 4 years ago, when she was only 16 years old, and facing charges in juvenile court.  Her mom kept insisting that her daughter did nothing wrong, and despite her family, community, and her attorneys fighting for her, the courts nevertheless put her on probation. However, they never gave up in pursuing justice. This week, she became the first person ever locally to win a dismissal of her juvenile case through a 782 code, making Santa Clara County legal history in the process.  “I put off so many job applications because I didn’t know how to move forward,” she says. But because of her unwavering family and community support, as well as great advocacy from her public defender, this family has triumphed.  “I couldn’t give up, because I had people — especially my mom — that wouldn’t give up.” — Submission Post by Charisse Domingo