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Trial Division

The Trial Division employs almost 300 full-time attorneys who represent indigent clients charged with crimes at the State Trial Court level throughout Missouri. The Trial Division has 33 district offices throughout the state. The offices range in size from 2 to 30 lawyers. Support staff for each office includes secretaries and at least one legal assistant, paralegal, or investigator.

A Commitment Defense Unit represents indigent people in "civil" commitment proceedings based on the allegation that the citizen is a "sexually violent predator."

Building on training provided at the state and national level, and with mentoring by experienced attorneys and support staff, a new trial lawyer can expect a caseload of real clients within weeks of starting the job.

Attorneys in the trial division have extensive client contact and courtroom exposure. Responsibilities include:

Be an MSPD lawyer
      • litigating all aspects of the case through disposition at the trial court level including pretrial and trial preparation
      • promoting and protecting the best interest of the client at all times
      • keeping client apprised of investigations, negotiations, and court rulings
      • appearing at regularly scheduled court dockets and all appearances concerning assigned caseload
      • drafting motions and pleadings

MSPD is dedicated to ensuring that attorneys in the Trial Division have the resources and skills needed to provide the highest-quality representation.

New attorneys in the Trial Division receive intensive training when they begin working as Assistant Public Defenders. This training continues as attorneys continue their career with MSPD. National training programs that MSPD trial attorneys may expect to attend some time over the course of their careers include, but are not limited to:

  • National Criminal Defense College Trial Practice Institute
    at Mercer Law School in Macon, Georgia
  • Institute for Criminal Defense Advocacy at California
    Western Law School in San Diego
  • Western Trial Advocacy Institute at the Wyoming University
    School of Law in Laramie, Wyoming
  • National Legal Aid and Defender Association's Defender
    Advocacy Institute
  • NCDC's Advanced Cross Examination and Theories and
    Themes programs
  • Numerous other substantive criminal defense programs in
    New York, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky,
    Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Wyoming, and California

MSPD is proud to often provide faculty for these programs as well as participants. Our attorneys have been invited to teach at programs in New York, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Wyoming, and California. They have served on national planning and policy committees for the greater defense and criminal justice community. They fill part-time adjunct professor positions at Missouri's law schools and other colleges around the state. Attorneys within our Trial Division have been recognized for their outstanding advocacy skills with a number of awards such as the prestigious Lon Hocker and George Spiegelberg awards.