Upcoming DSO Training Events

Date: April 05, 2023

Through structured mentorship programs, an office can empower, include, and elevate its defenders.  For new defenders, a structured mentorship program provides support and training in client-centered advocacy skills and personal growth, and provides an inclusive onboarding process.  For more experienced defenders, a mentorship program empowers and develops new leaders, includes and diversifies the voices in leadership, and creates community within the FPDO and throughout the defender nation.  This 75-minute session will introduce the key components of a structured mentorship program, the different models of mentorship programs to meet varying resources and needs of each office, and mentor trainings.  This session will also introduce the exciting upcoming launch of The Mentorship Space, an on-demand webinar series offering practical tools and resources to create structured mentorship programs - brave spaces that empower, include, and elevate its defenders.


Melanie Foote is the Education & Strategic Planning Branch Manager for the Department of Public Advocacy. Melanie joined the Education and Strategic Planning Branch of the Department of Public Advocacy in 2015. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego and her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School. She is a member of New York and Kentucky State Bars, and has been practicing in Kentucky since she joined the Adult Post Conviction Branch of the Department of Public Advocacy in 2007. While in the Post-Conviction, Melanie represented adult clients on claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, mistake in the proceedings, and claims of actual innocence. In that role, she secured the release and exoneration of Mr. Jason Girts, who had been wrongfully convicted based on false statements made by the child complaining witness. In 2009, she joined the Kentucky Innocence Project to work exclusively on DNA based claims of actual innocence, and assisted several clients to prove their innocence through DNA testing. At the completion of the DNA Grant in 2010, she began representing clients in district, circuit, juvenile and family court in the Elizabethtown and LaGrange Trial Offices. While at the Elizabethtown Trial Office, Melanie had the pleasure of representing Mr. Jose Padilla after his case was vacated and remanded by the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Padilla's charges were ultimately dismissed after a period of deferred prosecution, allowing him to remain in the United States. In 2017, Melanie secured a new trial for and the release of Mr. Norman Graham, who was wrongfully convicted of a 1980 rape and murder. All charges were dropped and Mr. Graham was fully exonerated in December of 2019. Melanie regularly trains public defender litigators in Kentucky and nationwide. She also assists with community education on issues related to public defense.

Jennifer Uyeda is currently a visiting attorney with the Training Division at the Administrative Office of the Courts.  In addition to planning and training at national conferences and workshops, she created The Mentorship Space, an on-demand webinar series offering practical tools and resources to create structured mentorship programs that are brave spaces to empower, include, and elevate its defenders.  Since 2019, she has been the Chief of Training at the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California, responsible for training the trial, investigator, and paralegal units, as well as the CJA Trial Panel. Collaborating with her team, she strives to create inclusive, diverse, informative, and innovative training programs for new trial lawyers, assistants, and investigators.  She runs the Mentorship Program and especially loves being a mentor, motivator, and therapist to new trial lawyers as they brave the draconian courts and build their advocacy skills and confidence to become fearless defenders. Hardly one-sided mentorships, she likewise learns from their creativity, energy, and fresh outlook. She also enjoys building trainers, honing in on their expertise and experience, and empowering them create their own presentations.  Jen has been a DFPD for 14 years after learning from some of the best in criminal defense at the firm formerly known as Lightfoot Vandevelde. She is a Loyola Law School and Occidental College graduate and Thomas Watson fellow. When she is not fighting the good fight, she surfs with her family, sews (quilts, felt snacks and food, and Halloween costumes) and cooks.

We did not apply for CLE for this particular program.  However, all attendees will receive an certificate of attendance within 15-30 days of the broadcast that may be used to self-report CLE.

Date: March 21, 2023

This presentation is aimed at giving defense lawyers the tools to confidently deal with the Federal Rules of Evidence covering evidentiary foundations and authentication. We will tackle the FREs dealing with foundational requirements for witness testimony (competency, personal knowledge, etc.). We will also look at the FREs covering foundational and authentication requirements for other evidence such as documents, photos and recordings.


Rene Valladares is the Federal Public Defender for the District of Nevada. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Boyd School of Law, and the UNLV Criminal Justice Department. He lectures nationally on various criminal law and procedure topics including evidence and the defense of conspiracy cases. Mr. Valladares serves on the Federal Defenders' Performance Measurement Working Group. Recently, Rene Valladares wrote a Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence: A Trial Practice Handbook for Criminal Defense Attorneys, published by NACDL.

Continuing Legal Education (CLE) accreditation for this program will be sought in all applicable jurisdictions. Additional CLE information will be available after the conclusion of this program. For more information about CLE, please visit our CLE Information Center.

Location: Santa Fe, NM
Date: April 12 - 14, 2023

The Train the Trainers Workshop is designed to enhance training skills and expand the pool of experienced legal professionals available to serve as faculty at local legal education programs designed for CJA Panel Attorneys and Federal Defender Employees, and national Defender Services Office Training Division (DSO-TD) events. Participants will learn, discuss, and apply principles of adult learning, effective training design, small group facilitation skills, and interactive teaching techniques and methodologies. The workshop is open to CJA Panel Attorneys, Federal Defender Employees, and others who provide services under the Criminal Justice Act (CJA). All participants must bring a laptop with PowerPoint or another presentation software on it to the workshop. Two weeks prior to the workshop, each participant must submit a proposed topic they are interested in providing training on to fellow CJA practitioners. If you have done a training on this topic before, please provide a written description and outline of that training. Those who have not done training before but are interested in doing so are highly encouraged to apply. Registration is limited to 49 people. Limited financial assistance may be available to non-federal defender registrants for travel expenses. Early registration is encouraged.

Location: Houston, TX
Date: May 16 - 18, 2023

This two-and-a-half-day seminar will cover a wide range of topics specifically targeted toward investigators, paralegals, and others who contribute to defending federal criminal cases.  A mix of plenary and concurrent breakout sessions will address areas such as online investigation, BOP issues, sentencing mitigation, mental health, document management and analysis, and offense-specific tips for building a powerful defense.  Also, this program will include presentations on issues relevant to all members of the defense team including mitigation specialists and social workers.  Finally, this training event will incorporate presentations centered on interpreters and those who perform interpreter duties in their offices or cases, as well as paralegals and investigators who work with bi-lingual clients and staff.

Location: Portland, OR
Date: August 20 - 25, 2023

We anticipate opening registration in mid-May, but you may consider checking back periodically before then.

The skills-based Academy, in its 13th year, has been a tremendous success. TSA focuses on (1) the use of a trial advocacy process to facilitate the development of a persuasive, fact-based theory and supporting themes and (2) honing the advocacy skills necessary to persuasively advance that theory and those themes throughout trial. Very experienced and skilled faculty lead this program through a series of plenary sessions and workshops. Elements of effective litigation and trial advocacy skills are presented in the plenaries. Participants then engage in hands-on practice of those skills using their very own cases and receive feedback in small group workshops.

Unique to this program, DSOTD  hires actors to participate and role play in various small group sessions, giving the program a dynamic element. All participants are invited to bring their own cases and have the unique opportunity to dive deeply into their case and develop a litigation strategy with the assistance of fellow small group members and experienced faculty. On top of learning and building skills, consider it a rare opportunity for an intensive, 6-day brainstorm session.

Here is some feedback that we have received for TSA:

  • This program was amazing.
  • The court granted my motion to suppress. This is the case that I brought to the seminar that we all discussed [at TSA]. I could tell you that many of the things I learned and that you guys helped me with were used in the motion to suppress. I thank you from the bottom of my heart but more importantly my client thanks you.
  • My teachers were amazing. They focused on presentation tips (from posture to cadence) to substantive tips. They even strategized. All teachers came at each session from a different perspective and worked well together to teach the small groups how to be a better trial attorney. I really appreciate their dedication, time, and abilities.
  • This program made me cry and feel proud to be a lawyer.

TSA is designed for, and attendance is limited to Criminal Justice Act (CJA) practitioners, both panel attorneys and lawyers from community and federal defender offices. There is no tuition, and materials will be provided to participants free of charge.  Participants are expected to stay for the entire program.