Below are some images of some amazing public defenders from our hometown of Santa Clara County. Of course, this is just a sampling of some of the incredible freedom fighters who walk into our courthouse and advocate for the least heard of our community, with no fanfare. Yet for the person facing an intimidating criminal justice system, these public defenders are arguably the most important person in their lives during that critical moment — the person fighting against a system that is trying to rip them from their families, communities, and lives. Please believe, we have families we care about deeply in our county who are still together because of the work of their pubic defender — parents in their kids’ lives, young people who now have a future instead of a life of prison. Public Defenders are the rock in David’s sling, as families fight the Goliath of the criminal justice system. On National Public Defender Day, the term being used is “tipping the scales” of justice. We have worked with some great public defenders across the country, but we thought it was right to highlight our hometown “Scale Tippers.”
Jessica Smith won Rusty’s freedom from a wrongful conviction that would have cost him his life. This is her walking out of court with Rusty’s mom the day they won.
Besides being part of a team at the ADO that saved a good friend of ours from a life sentence, Sajid Kahn prevented a 14 year old from doing a life sentence that would have taken most of his adult life. Because of Sajid, the juvenile will still be a youth when he comes home.
Rebecca Kahan won a re-sentencing for Jesus who was initially facing a life sentence without parole. Because of her, he now has a chance of parole, and coming home to his family.
Meghan Piano saved Lisa from a life sentence. Lisa had done 17 years when Meghan got her case. This is Meghan leaving court the day she won Lisa’s freedom, who now lives with her daughter and granddaughter. You can see a video on Lisa and Meghan here.
Ross McMahon worked with DannyRey’s mom and other public defenders to significantly reduce his incarceration, so DannyRey will still be a young man when he comes home, with a full life in front of him.
Andy Gutierrez advocated at community meetings to oppose a San Jose policy that would have allowed landlords to evict tenants who were arrested.
JJ Kapp fought for Will to come home from a life sentence. Will had been incarcerated for 18 years. This is JJ and Will the day after Will’s release, right before they went to lunch to celebrate.