The Austin Chronicle: County Names Its First Chief Public Defender

Last week, in a culminating vote that took roughly one minute, Travis County Commissioners Court took the next major step toward establishing a public defender office: appointing University of Virginia Law School lecturer Adeola Ogunkeyede as the county’s first chief public defender. According to the official announcement, Ogunkeyede will provide “robust and client-centered representation to adults accused of misdemeanor and felony offenses … and improve the quality of public defense representation countywide.” Congratulating the new appointee in a press release, County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said, “I am confident Adeola has the skills, experience, creativity and commitment to lead the County in producing a Public Defender Office all Travis County can be proud of.”

Ogunkeyede has been prominent in public defender work for years, first with the nonprofit the Bronx Defenders (as director of staff development as well as criminal litigation supervisor), and more recently in Virginia as legal director of the Legal Aid Justice Center‘s Civil Rights and Racial Jus­tice Program. In accepting her new role, Ogunkeyede said, “I am honored to return to the ranks of public defenders who defend local communities, hold the state to account, and promote a more just and equitable society.”

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