Implicit Bias Training for Public Defenders

The Equal Justice Society Public Defender Training Program

A counter-bias training tailored to Public Defenders, Appellate Defenders, Juvenile Defenders, and Dependency Court Advocates

The training is a deep dive into the mind science of implicit bias as well as a study of manifestations of bias in the criminal process and its impact on defendants. The training includes an exploration of internal bias and organizational biases and their impact on our individual practice and outcomes for our clients. It is structured, in part, as a workshop that offers practical tools for managing and countering our individual biases and the institutional biases embedded in the workplace.

In addition, the training will hone the Defenders’ ability to spot and confront bias in police procedure and prosecutor decision-making and offer strategies for bringing procedural bias to the court’s attention through pre-trial advocacy and motion practice. During the workshop, facilitators will work with Defenders to develop a trial advocacy plan that reduces procedural bias and preserves issues of bias for appeal.

This training can be paired with a counter-bias training for Appellate Defenders. In addition to the base training, it includes a survey of the jurisprudence on appellate remedies for procedural bias. The training will develop the Defenders’ ability to spot bias in the pre-conviction process and to translate those issues into effective appellate arguments.

Contact: Chris Bridges, cbridges@equaljusticesociety.org, 415-288-8707

What People Are Saying

Jennifer L Maples, Supervising Assistant Public Defender, DuPage County (Illinois) Public Defender – Thank you so much for your presentation and training on implicit bias for our office. It was FANTASTIC. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from our office. It was extremely valuable for us to learn ways to use this information in our representation of our clients. A lot of people are excited to try some of your suggestions in our upcoming trials (whenever those resume!). I really appreciate you presenting and hope to collaborate again someday.

Oakland-based Criminal Defense Attorney Shaffy Moeel, Esq., The Moeel Law Office – “Last year, I asked Chris and Lisa to help me challenge a federal sentencing enhancement against my client that would have doubled his sentence.  They worked closely with me in identifying an investigation plan and developing legal arguments in support of a motion to dismiss for selective prosecution.  Chris and Lisa were instrumental in helping me think broadly to identify key stakeholders from whom we should solicit support.  Throughout my time working with them, Chris and Lisa were readily available to meet, to brainstorm, to answer my questions, and provide litigation support.  They prepared an excellent amicus brief in support of the motion that we developed together.  Ultimately, passage of the First Step Act and the threat of having to defend against a motion for selective prosecution based on race led the government to dismiss the sentencing enhancement against my client.  This saved him years off of his sentence.  My client and I are truly grateful to Chris, Lisa and the EJS for being such an important resource in his case.”

Stanford University Professor – “I’ve taught at Stanford for over a decade now and for so many different departments and programs. Most all have attempted to address those issues in some form, but I’ve never witnessed a more informative, powerful, and empowering talk. I only wish I had heard it sooner.”

The Facilitators

C Bridges Photo SQ

Chris Bridges is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law. He also holds an MS in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University and a BS in Political Science and BA in Criminal Justice, both from North Carolina Central University. Chris began his legal career in 2012 with the ACLU of Northern California as the Racial Justice Project Fellow, where he worked on school to prison pipeline issues as a member of the Education Equity team. Chris began his work at the Equal Justice Society in Oakland as the Butler Koshland Fellow and was later hired full time to focus his advocacy on school discipline and education issues as well as inequities within the criminal justice system. To aid in these efforts, Chris is using social science, structural analysis, and real life experiences to help broaden conceptions of present-day discrimination to include implicit bias.

As the lead implicit bias trainer for the Equal Justice Society, Chris has presented over 60 implicit bias trainings across the country to a variety of audiences including, lawyers, state and federal judges, parents, teachers, community organizations, mediators, medical professionals, construction workers, and more. Chris’s focus on the intersectionality of various mind sciences including implicit and explicit biases help ground his social and racial justice advocacy efforts to combat inequity.

LISA HOLDER PHOTOLisa Holder is a nationally recognized, award-winning trial attorney and legal scholar who has been designated a “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine for four consecutive years. Lisa Holder was a Deputy Public Defender in Los Angeles for six years before moving into the civil rights litigation arena as a solo practitioner.  As part of her solo practice she is an appellate defender for the California Appellate Project and a Lecturer in Law at UCLA Law School where she teaches the clinic on civil rights and constitutional policing.

Commitment to diversity is the hallmark of Ms. Holder’s professional path.  She has dedicated her career to affording high quality representation and access to justice to under-served communities. As a scholar and practitioner fully committed to eliminating bias in the administration of justice she has naturally partnered with the Equal Justice Society to provide highly effective counter-bias training and instruction on inclusive advocacy to her fellow Defenders.

During her tenure as EJS Interim Legal Director, Lisa Holder drafted the Implicit Bias Training legislation that now requires all California lawyers, judges and judicial staff and all health care providers to undertake a continuous course of counter-bias training.