NLADA Mourns the Passing of Harvard Law Professor Charles J. Ogletree, Jr.  

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Release Date: 
Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Washington (August 15, 2023) – The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) mourns the loss of legendary Harvard Law professor, civil rights scholar, and former public defender Charles J.  Ogletree, Jr. Ogletree’s career included eight years as a public defender at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS).  

“Charles Ogletree deeply impacted my career and served as one of my north stars that inspired me and reminded me to maintain hope for equity and justice despite the challenges,” said NLADA President and CEO April Frazier Camara. “I am forever indebted to him for his immeasurable contributions to our community, because he embodied the rich legacy -that I was trained in at the D.C. Public Defender Service.” 

As an equal justice warrior, Ogletree remained involved in the public defense community for the entirety of his career. He was active with the NLADA community, serving on the organization’s board for several years. He will always be remembered for his unwavering commitment and love for clients. 

“When I served on the NLADA board with “Tree,” he shared with me that all his hard work and victories in his cases were for me and other clients. His fight for justice ran deep and was unwavering, and his humility and compassion would brighten any room that he would enter,” said Rosita Stanley, NLADA Community Advocate Board Member. 

“As amazing as it was to watch Tree in action in the courtroom, what was equally amazing was to watch Tree with his clients and his client’s family – his respect, support and friendship with them was so genuine.  It was clear that his compassion for people fueled his extraordinary social justice leadership,” said Jo-Ann Wallace, president, CEO, and board chairperson of NLADA Mutual Insurance Co., RRG. “And he was always there for the equal justice community.” 

Ogletree inspired the creation of the Black Public Defender Association, a section of NLADA. As a civil rights scholar, Ogletree deeply understood the interconnectedness between race, poverty, and the criminal legal system. He trained and mentored countless public defender leaders such as Jo-Ann Wallace, president, CEO, and board chairperson of NLADA Mutual, RRG, Avis Buchanan, former executive director of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, Heather Pinckney, current Director of Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, and others.   

NLADA sends its deepest sympathies to Ogletree’s family. 


The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA), founded in 1911, is America's oldest and largest nonprofit association devoted to excellence in the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel. NLADA has pioneered access to justice at the national, state, and local levels, playing a leadership role in the creation of public defender systems and other important institutions from The Sentencing Project to the Legal Services Corporation. A leader in the development of national standards for civil legal aid and public defense, NLADA also provides advocacy, training, and technical assistance for equal justice advocates across the country.