2007 Recipient

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Where presented : 
NLADA Annual Conference
Recipient organization: 
Public Defender's Office, 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida
Recipient organization city: 
Recipient organization state: 
Reason for selection of recipient(s): 

The 2007 recipient of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Award is the Public Defender’s Office of the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida (PD-11). The Clara Shortridge Foltz Award commends a public defender program or defense delivery system for outstanding achievement in the provision of indigent defense services. The achievement may be the result of an effort by the entire program, a division or branch or a special project. This award was named for the founder of the nation's public defender system. Foltz, California's first woman lawyer, introduced the "Foltz Defender Bill" at the Congress of Jurisprudence and Law Reform in Chicago in 1893.

Despite inadequate funding and limited resources, PD-11 is widely known for its exceptional work on behalf of indigent clients, extensive community involvement and proactive legal reform efforts. Through the years, PD-11 has faced tremendous budgetary challenges, won major legal battles, and developed a world-class public defender office in the process. Led by Bennett H. Brummer, who has been the public defender since 1977, PD-11 it is the largest indigent defense law firm in Florida.

Brummer’s leadership in providing quality defense to indigent clients is best exemplified by his determination in 1989 to force the government to address excessive caseloads that had resulted from years of inadequate funding for Florida’s public defender offices. In the face of overwhelmingly negative publicity, he took the politically unpopular position of withdrawing from thousands of cases until local officials finally agreed to fund additional public defender attorneys.

“Our public defender’s office is known throughout our community as an exemplary defender office,” said Teresa Descilo, executive director for The Trauma Resolution Center. “They are true advocates for humanity. It seems most fitting that your national organization recognize the work done by Bennett H. Brummer and his staff.”