Senator Ellis Press Release

For Immediate Release
February 18, 2010
Contact: Tina Tran, 512-463-0113

Senator Ellis Participates in U.S. DOJ National Symposium on Indigent Defense

(Washington D.C.) — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, along with other officials from the United States Department of Justice, convened key representatives from the adult and juvenile indigent defense community, including defenders, key policymakers, and practitioners from across the country to participate in a two day national symposium on indigent defense. The theme of the symposium is "Looking Back, Looking Forward."

State Senator Rodney Ellis is speaking on a panel regarding modes of collaboration, showcasing what Texas has accomplished in indigent defense reform. He will also discuss the importance of collaboration between the judiciary, bar leaders, nonprofits, legislators, grassroots leaders, and funders, which was integral in passing Texas' reforms to protect and advance the Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

"It is an honor to be a part of this impressive gathering of key policymakers and experts on indigent defense. I am proud to share the important steps Texas has taken to improve our system and will work to bring back innovative ideas for further advancement," said Senator Ellis.

In 2001, Senator Ellis authored landmark, bipartisan legislation to overhaul Texas' indigent criminal defense system. The Texas Fair Defense Act ensures prompt appointment of an attorney for indigent criminal defendants, provides guidelines on methods of appointment for counsel, establishes minimum standards for appointed attorneys, and provides both state resources and oversight of counties' indigent defense systems. Thanks to legislation championed by Sen. Ellis over the years, state funding for indigent defense has gone from $0 in 2001 to over $30 million in 2009.

For the full agenda please visit: