Please be advised that registration for all Training Division Events is limited to persons who provide services pursuant to the Federal Criminal Justice Act (CJA). For more information please read our Training Events Registration Disclaimer. Continuing Legal Education (CLE) accreditation for DSO Training Division Programs will be requested unless otherwise noted. Program Credit hours will always be subject to each state's approval and credit rounding rules. Approved programs and credit hours will be made available at the conclusion of applicable programs.
NEW For CLE information and available resources pertaining to your state, please visit the CLE Information Center. Click here for CLE FAQs.
Please read the 2023 DSO In-Person Health & Safety Protocols.
If you have any questions about registering, please emailus.
The Mentorship Space: Building Brave Spaces to Empower, Include, and Elevate
Through structured mentorship programs, an office can empower, include, and elevate its defenders. For new defenders, a structured mentorship program provides support and training in client-centered advocacy skills and personal growth, and provides an inclusive onboarding process. For more experienced defenders, a mentorship program empowers and develops new leaders, includes and diversifies the voices in leadership, and creates community within the FPDO and throughout the defender nation. This 75-minute session will introduce the key components of a structured mentorship program, the different models of mentorship programs to meet varying resources and needs of each office, and mentor trainings. This session will also introduce the exciting upcoming launch of The Mentorship Space, an on-demand webinar series offering practical tools and resources to create structured mentorship programs – brave spaces that empower, include, and elevate its defenders.
Melanie Foote is the Education & Strategic Planning Branch Manager for the Department of Public Advocacy. Melanie joined the Education and Strategic Planning Branch of the Department of Public Advocacy in 2015. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego and her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School. She is a member of New York and Kentucky State Bars, and has been practicing in Kentucky since she joined the Adult Post Conviction Branch of the Department of Public Advocacy in 2007. While in the Post-Conviction, Melanie represented adult clients on claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, mistake in the proceedings, and claims of actual innocence. In that role, she secured the release and exoneration of Mr. Jason Girts, who had been wrongfully convicted based on false statements made by the child complaining witness. In 2009, she joined the Kentucky Innocence Project to work exclusively on DNA based claims of actual innocence, and assisted several clients to prove their innocence through DNA testing. At the completion of the DNA Grant in 2010, she began representing clients in district, circuit, juvenile and family court in the Elizabethtown and LaGrange Trial Offices. While at the Elizabethtown Trial Office, Melanie had the pleasure of representing Mr. Jose Padilla after his case was vacated and remanded by the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Padilla’s charges were ultimately dismissed after a period of deferred prosecution, allowing him to remain in the United States. In 2017, Melanie secured a new trial for and the release of Mr. Norman Graham, who was wrongfully convicted of a 1980 rape and murder. All charges were dropped and Mr. Graham was fully exonerated in December of 2019. Melanie regularly trains public defender litigators in Kentucky and nationwide. She also assists with community education on issues related to public defense.
Jennifer Uyeda is currently a visiting attorney with the Training Division at the Administrative Office of the Courts. In addition to planning and training at national conferences and workshops, she created The Mentorship Space, an on-demand webinar series offering practical tools and resources to create structured mentorship programs that are brave spaces to empower, include, and elevate its defenders. Since 2019, she has been the Chief of Training at the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California, responsible for training the trial, investigator, and paralegal units, as well as the CJA Trial Panel. Collaborating with her team, she strives to create inclusive, diverse, informative, and innovative training programs for new trial lawyers, assistants, and investigators. She runs the Mentorship Program and especially loves being a mentor, motivator, and therapist to new trial lawyers as they brave the draconian courts and build their advocacy skills and confidence to become fearless defenders. Hardly one-sided mentorships, she likewise learns from their creativity, energy, and fresh outlook. She also enjoys building trainers, honing in on their expertise and experience, and empowering them create their own presentations. Jen has been a DFPD for 14 years after learning from some of the best in criminal defense at the firm formerly known as Lightfoot Vandevelde. She is a Loyola Law School and Occidental College graduate and Thomas Watson fellow. When she is not fighting the good fight, she surfs with her family, sews (quilts, felt snacks and food, and Halloween costumes) and cooks.
We did not apply for CLE for this particular program. However, all attendees will receive an certificate of attendance within 15-30 days of the broadcast that may be used to self-report CLE.
12 - 14
IN PERSON: Train the Trainers Workshop
The Train the Trainers Workshop is designed to enhance training skills and expand the pool of experienced legal professionals available to serve as faculty at local legal education programs designed for CJA Panel Attorneys and Federal Defender Employees, and national Defender Services Office Training Division (DSO-TD) events. Participants will learn, discuss, and apply principles of adult learning, effective training design, small group facilitation skills, and interactive teaching techniques and methodologies. The workshop is open to CJA Panel Attorneys, Federal Defender Employees, and others who provide services under the Criminal Justice Act (CJA). All participants must bring a laptop with PowerPoint or another presentation software on it to the workshop. Two weeks prior to the workshop, each participant must submit a proposed topic they are interested in providing training on to fellow CJA practitioners. If you have done a training on this topic before, please provide a written description and outline of that training. Those who have not done training before but are interested in doing so are highly encouraged to apply. Registration is limited to 49 people. Limited financial assistance may be available to non-federal defender registrants for travel expenses. Early registration is encouraged.
20 - 22
IN PERSON - Trial Skills Workshop / Crimes Decoded: Emerging Digital Litigation Technology Strategies
Registration is now closed for this program. The program is full, and we have a lengthy waitlist.
Crimes Decoded explores the intersection of digital technology and zealous advocacy in criminal cases. We aim to increase understanding and inspire CJA lawyers and Federal Public Defenders to think innovatively about how to litigate issues surrounding the digital technology that increasingly permeates their cases. We aim to build lawyers' confidence to use traditional advocacy skills with a new understanding of the potential challenges to the technology that law enforcement is using. With knowledge and skills, we can be successful in all phases of representation.
The program is a skills-based workshop. The expectation is that participants spend much of the workshop on their feet practicing their advocacy skills. Participants are divided into small groups that will practice the skills necessary to effectively exclude, explain, and/or persuade a Judge or Jury about the technology utilized. Lectures and demonstrations of these skills supplement and inform the small group workshops. The program consists of 10 plenary presentations, 5 workshop sessions, 2 demonstrations, and two optional events: (1) a "happening hour" where we invite participants to seek advice on any active cases from our experienced faculty, and an optional social gathering, and (2) a 75-minute lunch session for CJA attorneys titled "Vouch for your Voucher" which will focus on court rules for submitting expert requests to the court and best practices for submitting persuasive requests.
Because of the hands-on format of this workshop, attendance will be limited, and each participant must apply to be accepted to the program by completing the registration. Completed registration applications will be reviewed in the order they are received.
Continuing Legal Education (CLE) accreditation for this program will be sought in all applicable jurisdictions. Additional CLE information will be available after the conclusion of this program.
Freedom Denied: Combatting Pretrial Detention
This webinar will train you to keep your clients out of jail. Professor Siegler will also share the shocking results of her national investigation of federal pretrial detention, which reveals a crisis of epic proportions, with federal judges jailing our clients in violation of federal law, jailing clients for poverty, and even locking people in jail without lawyers. You will learn how to marshal the Bail Reform Act to combat those unlawful practices, reduce racial disparities, and win your clients’ release. The presentation (90 minutes) will be followed by a Q&A session (30 minutes).
Alison Siegler is the Founding Director of the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic (FCJC) at the University of Chicago Law School, the first legal clinic devoted to representing indigent clients charged with federal felonies, pursuing impact litigation in federal court, and engaging in systemic reform of the federal criminal system. Professor Siegler’s clinic recently published the first comprehensive national investigation of federal pretrial detention, Freedom Denied: How the Culture of Detention Created a Federal Jailing Crisis, which finds that federal judges routinely violate the Bail Reform Act and jail clients unlawfully. Professor Siegler has testified before Congress about the need for federal bond reform. She has also trained hundreds of federal magistrate judges, AFDs, and CJA lawyers on the Bail Reform Act. Professor Siegler’s clinic previously garnered national recognition for its contributions to groundbreaking federal race discrimination litigation in the “stash house” cases in Chicago. Before founding the FCJC, Professor Siegler served as a Staff Attorney with the Federal Defender Program in Chicago, a Prettyman Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center’s Criminal Justice Clinic, and a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman in Chicago. She graduated magna cum laude from Yale College, earned a J.D. from Yale Law School, and holds an LL.M. from Georgetown.
Continuing Legal Education (CLE) accreditation for this program will be sought in all applicable jurisdictions. Additional CLE information will be available after the conclusion of this program. For more information about CLE, please visit our CLE Information Center.
16 - 18
In-Person: Federal Defender Investigator & Paralegal Seminar
This two-and-a-half-day seminar will cover a wide range of topics specifically targeted toward investigators, paralegals, and others who contribute to defending federal criminal cases. A mix of plenary and concurrent breakout sessions will address areas such as online investigation, BOP issues, sentencing mitigation, mental health, document management and analysis, and offense-specific tips for building a powerful defense. Also, this program will include presentations on issues relevant to all members of the defense team including mitigation specialists and social workers. Finally, this training event will incorporate presentations centered on interpreters and those who perform interpreter duties in their offices or cases, as well as paralegals and investigators who work with bi-lingual clients and staff.
13 - 15
Race in the Federal Criminal Court: Strategies in Pursuit of Justice
The history of the American criminal legal system is marked by racial inequity. Across time and space, numerous racialized groups – from the Indigenous Tribes of North America to the well-documented high rate of imprisonment among Black people to prioritizing the prosecution of Latinx people in the U.S. and along the southern border – have been a focus of attention for the nation’s courts.
The Race in the Federal Criminal Court: Strategies in Pursuit of Justice conference is an inclusive program designed to share with everyone working pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act about the many ways race impacts the administration of justice and to provide them with strategies and innovation to combat racial injustice in the criminal legal system.
Areas to be addressed include strategies on litigating race from the police encounter on the street and the Fourth Amendment, roadmap for successful Batson challenges, practical tips in defending noncitizens, and ways to decrease racial disparities in detention hearings, charging, pleas, and at sentencing. In addition, sessions devoted to teaching a trauma-informed approach to interviewing, counseling, and other aspects of defender work, exposing racial disparities in risk assessment tools, learning ways diverse teams can work cohesively and effectively, and several other sessions dealing with litigation, mitigation, and professional development will be presented in both plenary and breakout sessions. We will also hear and learn directly from those who have experienced the unnecessary cruelty of the law firsthand.
This program is open to everyone working with federal defender and CJA panel attorneys. Yes, that means both attorneys and non-attorneys, investigators, paralegals, legal assistants, and any defense professional who will find the program’s content valuable to their work.
If you have questions about the content of this workshop, please contact Akin Adepoju at Akin_Adepoju@ao.uscourts.gov (link sends e-mail).
Continuing Legal Education (CLE) accreditation for this program will be sought in all applicable jurisdictions. This program may satisfy CLE requirements in ethics, elimination of bias, inclusion and cultural competency, and professionalism.
20 - 25
CJA Trial Skills Academy
We anticipate opening registration in mid-April.
The skills-based Academy, in its 13th year, has been a tremendous success. TSA focuses on (1) the use of a trial advocacy process to facilitate the development of a persuasive, fact-based theory and supporting themes and (2) honing the advocacy skills necessary to persuasively advance that theory and those themes throughout trial. Very experienced and skilled faculty lead this program through a series of plenary sessions and workshops. Elements of effective litigation and trial advocacy skills are presented in the plenaries. Participants then engage in hands-on practice of those skills using their very own cases and receive feedback in small group workshops.
Unique to this program, DSOTD hires actors to participate and role play in various small group sessions, giving the program a dynamic element. All participants are invited to bring their own cases and have the unique opportunity to dive deeply into their case and develop a litigation strategy with the assistance of fellow small group members and experienced faculty. On top of learning and building skills, consider it a rare opportunity for an intensive, 6-day brainstorm session.
Here is some feedback that we have received for TSA:
- This program was amazing.
- The court granted my motion to suppress. This is the case that I brought to the seminar that we all discussed [at TSA]. I could tell you that many of the things I learned and that you guys helped me with were used in the motion to suppress. I thank you from the bottom of my heart but more importantly my client thanks you.
- My teachers were amazing. They focused on presentation tips (from posture to cadence) to substantive tips. They even strategized. All teachers came at each session from a different perspective and worked well together to teach the small groups how to be a better trial attorney. I really appreciate their dedication, time, and abilities.
- This program made me cry and feel proud to be a lawyer.
TSA is designed for, and attendance is limited to Criminal Justice Act (CJA) practitioners, both panel attorneys and lawyers from community and federal defender offices. There is no tuition, and materials will be provided to participants free of charge. Participants are expected to stay for the entire program.