MSPD News Releases

MSPD News ReleasesMissouri’s New State Public Defender Sworn into OfficeMay 28, 2015

(COLUMBIA, MO)—Michael Barrett was sworn into office as the new Picture of attorneydirector of Missouri’s State Public Defender System in a ceremony at the Missouri Supreme Court Thursday afternoon. Chief Justice Mary Rhodes Russell administered the oath of office, following remarks by outgoing Director Cat Kelly and Public Defender Commission Chair, Doug Copeland.  Missouri’s Public Defender System is part of the judicial branch of state government, and every new State Public Defender since the system’s creation in 1982 has acknowledged that connection with a swearing in ceremony at the Supreme Court.  Michael Barrett is the fifth to follow in that tradition.

A native New Yorker, Barrett worked as a public defender in New York before moving into the political arena, where he worked both for the New York legislature and two New York Governors on a variety of criminal justice policy initiatives. He moved to Missouri in 2011, and later joined the Office of Governor Jay Nixon as Deputy General Counsel. Barrett worked in the Missouri governor’s administration for two years before accepting the position as General Counsel for the MO State Public Defender System. He was selected for the top spot by the Public Defender Commission in March.

Barrett assumes leadership of a department that, at just shy of 380 attorneys, is one of the largest law firms in the state. Support and operations staff bringing the total number of employees up to 567. Last year, the organization was assigned over 75,000 new cases, ranging from misdemeanor traffic offenses up to and including death penalty cases, appeals, and post-conviction matters.

For questions regarding this information, please contact:

Michael Barrett
Director and Public Information Officer
Missouri Public Defender System
Phone: 573-526-5212
E mail: