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Berkos Award

Starting in 2018 as the Private Bar Award and renamed the Berkos Award in memory of long-time Public Defender Board Chair Danny Berkos, the Berkos Award is annually handed out by the Public Defender Board in recognition of private bar lawyers who have consistently displayed great dedication and excellence in representing their SPD clients and in working to help improve services for indigent defense.

2019 Recipient:
Madison-based private attorney Michael Covey for his dedication to his public defender clients and to the agency.

Prior Recipient:
Attorney Matthew Kirkpatrick - Menomonie, Wisconsin.

State Public Defender Public Records

The State Public Defender (SPD) is an independent, executive-branch state agency providing legal representation to indigent individuals in criminal cases and other cases in which the individual has a constitutional right to the assistance of an attorney.  The SPD has 36 local trial offices, 2 appellate offices, and a central administrative office.  The agency also certifies and appoints private bar attorneys to handle conflict and overflow cases.

What Is A Public Record?
In general, state agency records are public and available for inspection.  A record may be in any form if it has been created or received by the SPD during the course of business and kept in connection with the official purpose or function of the agency.

There are exceptions to the public records law, including records that contain confidential information that is protected by state law.  In addition, most records relating to clients are confidential and are generally not subject to public records law.  (See SCR 20:1.6).  Clients of the SPD have a right to their own case files, and a request for your own file is not a public records request.  If you are a client of the SPD, you may contact your attorney or the local SPD office to request your file.  The location of the file will differ depending upon whether you were represented by an SPD staff attorney or a private attorney appointed by the SPD.

State agencies are not required to create a new record by extracting and compiling information from existing records into a new format or record.

Procedure For Making Requests
A public records request may be made orally or in writing.  Requests must reasonably describe the records sought in order to avoid delays caused by misunderstanding or miscommunication.

Requests for public records should be directed to the SPD Records Custodian:

 
Diane Rondini
17 S. Fairchild St., 5th Floor
Madison, WI  53703
608-261-5417
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The SPD will respond to all public record requests as soon as practicable and without delay.  The time it takes the SPD to respond will depend on factors including the nature and scope of the request, the availability of staff, and the other resources necessary to process the request.  The SPD will notify the requester whether the records requested are available, or the SPD may deny the request in whole or in part if the records do not exist or are not accessible under the public records law.  If the SPD denies a written request, it will provide the denial in writing.

Fees

The SPD is authorized to impose fees in responding to public records requests.  The SPD may charge the actual, necessary, and direct cost of reproducing a record.  When the request calls for a copy of a record that can be photocopied, the SPD may charge its standard fee of $.02 per printed page. In rare instances, specialized skills, equipment, or technology may result in additional copy costs.   The SPD does not charge for converting paper records to electronic format. If records are provided on a CD or DVD, the SPD may charge $0.13 per disc.  When requested and whenever practicable, the SPD will provide electronic copies of records that already exist in electronic format without charging reproduction fees on a per-page basis.  However, if the record requested is not in a readily comprehensible form (e.g. computer file, database entry), the SPD may charge the actual cost of creating a readily comprehensible copy.  The SPD will not charge for the cost of reviewing records for possible redaction or removal of confidential information.

The SPD may charge the actual, necessary, and direct costs of locating the records if its exceeds $50.  Any staff time for locating records will be billed at the hourly rate of salary for the lowest-paid employee capable of performing the task.  The hourly rate charged for locating records may also include the cost of benefits, but will not exceed $30 per hour except in rare instances.  If the records are mailed or shipped to the requester, the SPD may charge the actual, necessary and direct mailing or shipping cost.

The above fees apply except when a different fee is authorized by law.  The SPD may request pre-payment if the total costs are greater than $5.

All fees for record requests should be made payable for the exact amount to Wisconsin State Public Defender.

 

General Information About Public Records

Wisconsin's public records law can be found at Wis. Stat. ss. 19.31-19.39.

The WI Department of Justice Public Records Law Compliance Guide (2018) provides a comprehensive review of Wisconsin's public records law.

 

General Information About Confidentiality Of SPD Client Files

The Wisconsin Rules of Professional Conduct regarding confidentiality of client information can be found at SCR 20:1.6.

The State Public Defender statute regarding confidentiality of SPD files can be found at Wis. Stat. s. 977.09.



The Office of the State Public Defender (SPD) is now hiring!

The SPD's mission is to enhance the quality of justice throughout Wisconsin by providing high-quality cost-effective representation to indigent clients, protecting the rights of accused individuals, and by serving as advocates for effective defense services and a rational justice system.

The SPD is extremely proud that its system of indigent defense is considered a model for public defender programs around the world.

Employees are offered a comprehensive benefits package including a top-rated health plan, vacation leave, nine paid holidays, and the ability to participate in one of the best retirement plans offered.  For a complete list of benefits, click here.  Additionally, employees may be eligible for student loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

The SPD serves indigent clients in all 72 Wisconsin counties as authorized by state statute.  If you are a highly motivated, talented, and dedicated individual interested in working in one of our offices, please apply at WiscJobs.

For questions or further information, please contact Tina Fisher, Human Resources Specialist - Senior, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We are currently recruiting for the positions identified below.  Click on the links to view the position descriptions.

Attachments:
FileYear Created
Download this file (LAM_Posted (2).pdf)Local Attorney Manager - Hudson 
History of the SPD
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The Wisconsin State Public Defender's Office (SPD) provides legal representation for persons who are accused of crimes or are defendants in certain specified civil matters, and who meet statutory financial eligibility criteria.  The SPD was created by statute in 1965. Until 1972, the office consisted of one attorney, an employee of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, who represented indigents seeking post-conviction relief. Counties were responsible for indigent defense at the trial level, which was provided by assigned counsel. The SPD became an independent agency in 1977, and gradually began to represent indigents at the trial level (still with private attorneys). In 1979, the state provided funding for the public defender program and established a certain proportion of each county’s indigent cases to be handled by public and private counsel. The program had a sunset date of November 1985, at which time the appointment of indigent defense would have reverted back to exclusive appointment of private attorneys. In 1985, the sunset was repealed and the SPD’s responsibilities were expanded from 47 counties to the entire state.

The 1995-97 biennial budget act, 1995 Wisconsin Act 27, required the SPD to implement new programs for collections, verification, and assignment of private bar cases based on efficiencies. Act 27 also required that the State Public Defender Board enter into annual fixed fee contracts with private attorneys and law firms for some cases. Act 27 eliminated SPD representation in cases involving conditions of confinement, early representation (later restored in 2001 Wis. Act 16), most sentence modifications, and certain appeals. In addition, representation was limited for paternity and non-payment of child support cases, probation and parole modifications, and revocations. Representation was also eliminated for parents whose children are involved in CHIPS proceedings.

The 1999-2001 biennial budget bill returned responsibility for all facets of information technology to the SPD from the Bureau of Justice Information Systems in the Department of Administration. In addition to successfully accomplishing agency-wide implementation of state-standard hardware and software, the SPD developed and implemented a new management information system and began installation of a wide area network during that biennium.

The 2001-03 biennial budget bill (2001 Wis. Act 16) authorized the SPD to again provide “early representation” (i.e., representation before the client has been charged or jailed). Early involvement in cases often results in charges being dismissed or reduced, which reduces the cost.

2007 Wisconsin Act 20 eliminated the need for eligibility determinations for adults subject to involuntary civil commitment, protective placement, or involuntary administration of psychotropic medication effective July 1, 2008.

Under 2009 Wisconsin Act 164 the outdated financial eligibility standards for adults in criminal cases and in proceedings other than those noted in the preceding paragraph changed on June 19, 2011, and are based on the Wisconsin Works (W-2) program. Act 164 authorized 45.4 FTE to allow the SPD to appoint staff attorneys in 75% of the projected 12,800 additional cases; the remainder will be appointed to private bar attorneys.

Prior to Act 164, the SPD determined client financial eligibility based on an analysis of the applicant’s income, assets, family size, and, under current law, essential expenses. Because these standards were based on the obsolete AFDC guidelines, a person with an income level significantly below the federal poverty guidelines would not meet the eligibility standards for SPD representation, yet could not afford to hire a private attorney. In such cases, the court appointed an attorney at county expense to satisfy the individual’s constitutional right to counsel. The use of the eligibility standards in Act 164 is saving county expenditures for indigent defense.

supreme court

Rubin Society Award

The Rubin Society Award, named in the memory of former SPD attorney Peter Rubin, recognizes the outstanding contributions that agency staff make to their communities.  Starting the 2015, the award is bestowed to the SPD regional office that participated in the most outreach over the previous year.  Prior to 2015, individual staff members were recognized for their individual efforts.

2019 Recipient:
The Milwaukee Trial Region for its outreach directed at the Milwaukee community and at the national indigent defense community.

Prior Regional Recipients:
La Crosse Region - Black River Falls,  La Crosse, Lancaster, & Sparta Offices; Green Bay Region - Appleton, Green Bay, Peshtigo, & Shawano Offices; Eau Claire Region - Barron, Eau Claire, & Hudson Offices; & Milwaukee Trial Office.

Prior Individual Recipients:

Annette Barna - Rice Lake; John Bergstrom - Janesville; Marge Bieschke - Milwaukee Trial; Howard Cameron - Hudson; Mary Cayan - Milwaukee Trial; Marcus Coleman - Milwaukee Trial; Ann Davey - Madison Trial; Pat DeMeo - Madison Appellate; Tom Dixon - Administration; Tammy Edwards - Appleton; Brian Figy - Appleton; Peter Goldberg - Milwaukee Trial; Ben Gonring - Madison Trial; Ellen Henak - Milwaukee Appellate; Maggie Hogan - Rhinelander; John W. Johnson, Jr. - Rhinelander; Margaret Johnson - Racine; Shirley Johnson - Black River Falls; Sheila Kessler - Stevens Point; Alice Knitter - Milwaukee Trial; Linda Koenigs - Jefferson; Barbara Krueger - Eau Claire; Alex Lockwood - Milwaukee Trial; Ken Lund - Madison Appellate; John Manydeeds - Eau Claire; Claytee Mattox - Milwaukee Appellate; Paul Merkle - Janesville; Joe Moore - Juneau; Ann Munninghoff - Rhinelander; Rose Oliveto - Lancaster; Marilyn Parks - Milwaukee Appellate; Jose Perez - Administration; Jack Rakowski - Rice Lake; Stuart Richter - Madison Trial; Trish Sahs - Spooner; Renee Savannah - Madison Trial; Jack Schairer - Madison Appellate; April Schmidt - Sheboygan; Katherine Schnell - LaCrosse; Jodi Severson - Rice Lake; Ron Shabazz - Milwaukee Juvenile; Kathy Smith - Madison Trial; Betsy Stampe - Madison Trial; Rhonda Stauss - Milwaukee Trial; Judy Stowell - Milwaukee Trial; Chris Sydow - Madison Appellate; Ramon Valdez - Milwaukee Trial; Eric Vega - Milwaukee Trial; Greg Vollan - Juneau; John Wabaunsee - LaCrosse; Bruce Ware - Milwaukee Juvenile; Mary Wolfe - Fond du Lac

Chiarkas Award

Awarded annually starting in 2011, the Chiarkas Award is handed out by the State Public Defender in recognition of the leadership efforts of a staff member of the Wisconsin State Public Defender's Office (SPD). The award is named in honor of former State Public Defender Nick Chiarkas.

2019 Recipient:
Assistant State Public Defender Sally Barrientes for her mentoring and training of interns and staff, and for her work on expungement.
 
Prior Recipients: 

Regional Office Administrator Leslie Patrow for her leadership in going above-and-beyond in her job. 

Assistant State Public Defender Travis Schwantes for his work with a national news show and his long-time dedication to training.

Assistant State Public Defender Margaret Johnson for her work as the Racial and Ethnic Disparities Coordinator.

Assistant State Public Defender Robert Peterson for his leadership efforts in further developing and managing the agency's Chapter 980 practice group.

Assistant State Public Defender Diane Rondini-Harness of Milwaukee Juvenile and Mental Health for her efforts on the issue of human trafficking.

Attorney Manager Neil McGinn of Milwaukee Trial for his efforts in mentoring other attorneys and representing the agency on a number of key Milwaukee-area committees and initiatives.

Investigator Michael Whalen of Madison Trial for his efforts to work with the YWCA of Dane County and develop a process to implement Self-Reflection and Racial Bias Discussion Circles agency-wide.

Assistant State Public Defender Jessie Weber of Eau Claire for her leadership efforts to successfully work with Buffalo County in order to have its first-offense marijuana & drug paraphernalia charges to ordinance violations.

Wisconsin Cares About Kids Award

The Wisconsin Cares About Kids Award formally recognizes the efforts of individuals and organizations across the state that makes a difference in their communities. By working with our youth, the recipients help to create a better future for all our children.


Last Recipient:

Kids Matter, Inc; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; 2014.  Kids Matter was founded in 2001, and focuses on helping abused and neglected children with victims services.  Kids Matter works with foster parents and grandparents, who are taking over a parenting role, as well as facilitate connections between health care providers and child welfare professionals.

kids matter


Prior Recipients:

Jefferson County Literacy Council’s Family Literacy Program; Jefferson, Wisconsin

La Causa, Inc.; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

B. Thomas Wanta and the staff of the Milwaukee County Detention Center; Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

The Integrated Services Program of CESA #6; Oshkosh, Wisconsin

The Black Male Role Model Group; Beloit, Wisconsin

La Crosse County Peer Court; Onalaska, Wisconsin

Clean Break Juvenile Diversion Program; Appleton, Wisconsin

San Juan Diego Middle School; Racine, Wisconsin

The Boys and Girls Club of Dane County; Madison, Wisconsin

Mary Murphy Edwards & Villari's Martial Arts Center; Madison, Wisconsin

Tracey Priestley, Waukesha County Human Services Manager; Waukesha, Wisconsin

Madison Central Montessori School; Madison, Wisconsin

Malcolm Shabazz City High School; Madison, Wisconsin

Racine Police Department, Community Oriented Policing (COP) Houses; Racine, Wisconsin

G. Dwight Hamilton, Youth Leadership Academy Boys Choir Director; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Steven Robertson, Youth Minister and Youth Advocate; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Rubin For Kids; Madison, Wisconsin

Roberta Harris, Milwaukee Project Ujima; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Jim Golembeski, Golden House (Green Bay's Family Violence Center); DePere, Wisconsin

Plua Her and Ker Yang, Wausau-area Hmong youth programs; Wausau, Wisconsin

Christin Harding, Kids Companion Program; Baraboo, Wisconsin

Wayne Johnson, Hudson-area youth volunteer; Hudson, Wisconsin

Rev. Lawrence L. Kirby, St. Paul Baptist Church Pastor; Racine, Wisconsin

Judge Donegan, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Eisenberg Award

Awarded annually, the Eisenberg Award is handed out by the Public Defender Board in recognition of those who have had a substantial impact on the indigent defense community, the rights of our poorest citizens and/or the criminal justice system. The award is named in honor of Dean Howard Eisenberg.

2019 Recipient:
Bill Harrigan
of Grafton's Harrigan Solutions who created an initiative to hire individuals involved in the justice system and, through extensive training and mentoring, have them work towards a better future.

Prior Recipients:
Representative Joan Ballweg
for authoring legislation that created a pilot program & funding for the SPD to represent parents subject to CHIPS, and Running Rebels for its 40-year track record of providing positive choices and programming for Milwaukee youth.

Wraparound Milwaukee for its comprehensive community-based care model for children with emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs, and David Riemer for leading the writing of the statute that ultimately created the SPD in the late 1970s.

Attorneys Jerry Buting and Dean Strang for educating the public about, among other subjects, the Wisconsin justice system and the importance of increasing the private bar rate, and Dane County's Horizon High School for providing educational opportunities for students recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

The Walworth County Jail Literacy Program for its impact on inmates and the community, and Tony Streveler, former Department of Corrections' Director of Research and Policy, for his impact on statewide policies and programs including Assess, Inform, Measure (AIM).

Representative John Nygren for his groundbreaking HOPE (Heroin, Opiate Prevention and Education) legislation, and Ginny VandenBranden for her Challenges and Possibilities Program in the Green Bay Correctional Institution.

The University of Wisconsin Law School and the Marquette Law School for their respective clinical programs that offer law students unique educational experiences.

Milwaukee County Chief Judge Jeffrey Kremers for leading Milwaukee County in adopting significant changes in its criminal justice system.

Wisconsin Counties Association for its long-time support of updating the SPD’s eligibility criteria.

Nicholas L. Chiarkas for his 22 years of innovative and courageous leadership as Wisconsin State Public Defender.

Wisconsin Veterans Intervention Program (WI-VIP) contributors: Judge James Daley, Rock County Circuit Court Presiding Judge; Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs; UW-Law School’s Frank J. Remington Center; Dr. Dean Krahn; Wm S. Middleton Memorial Hospital’s Mental Health Services Chief.

Sister Esther Heffernan in recognition of her longtime dedication to peace and justice.

Wisconsin Association of Treatment Court Professionals in recognition of it’s efforts to develop and strengthen treatment courts throughout Wisconsin.

Milwaukee Bar Association and its Legal Services to the Indigent Defense Committee in recognition of their dedication and ongoing efforts in support of indigent defense in Milwaukee as well as in Wisconsin.

Representative Terri McCormick in recognition of her leadership role in legislation that updated the SPD's eligibility criteria.

Agency Leadership Team (ALT)

 

Kelli Thompson – State Public Defender - (608) 266-0087
Jon Padgham - Deputy State Public Defender - (920) 717-8410

Martina Allen - Budget Director - (608) 267-0311
Cindy Archer - Chief Information Officer - (608) 261-0636
Jennifer Bias - Trial Division Director - (608) 267-9588 & (414) 227-4975
Nancy McLean - Human Resources Director - (608) 266-9448
Kathy Pakes – Assigned Counsel Division Director - (608) 261-8856
Adam Plotkin – Legislative Liaison - (608) 264-8572
Gina Pruski – Training Director - (608) 266-6782
Diane Rondini - Legal Counsel - (608) 261-5417
Sara Ward-Cassady - Administrative Services Director - (608) 261-0084
Katie York - Appellate Division Director - (608) 266-7125


Kelli Thompson
 is the Wisconsin State Public Defender. Kelli received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1993, and her law degree from Marquette University in 1996.

Kelli began her career with the Wisconsin State Public Defender's Office (SPD) in 1996, working first as an intern while attending law school and then being hired as a Trial Attorney in the SPD's Milwaukee Trial Office. In 2001, Kelli went to work for a public relations firm, Zigman Joseph Stephenson, as Legislative Counsel. In 2002, she was appointed as a Commissioner to the Wisconsin Personnel Commission. Kelli returned to the SPD in 2003, and served as Training Director, Legal Counsel, and Deputy State Public Defender before being appointed State Public Defender in 2011.

Kelli has been elected/appointed to a number of legal-profession organizations, including Board of Directors of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, Treatment Alternatives and Diversions (TAD) Advisory Group, Wisconsin Court’s Planning and Policy Advisory Committee, and Executive Committee member of the Wisconsin Statewide Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. Additionally, Kelli is active in a variety of community organizations, including Wisconsin Women in Government Past-President and Past-Vice President, the Wisconsin Literacy Council Past-President and the Wisconsin Women's Health Foundation.


Jon Padgham
serves as the Deputy State Public Defender.  A career public defender, Jon has worked in SPD offices in Milwaukee, Lancaster, and Appleton.  Over the years he has had the pleasure of handling cases in 28 (and counting) of Wisconsin's counties.

A proud Badger, Jon has both his undergraduate (Human Development & Family Studies) and law degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.  Outside of his SPD life, he has served as an adjunct professor and teaching assistant. 

Jon currently has the privilege of serving on Governor Tony Evers' Judicial Selection Advisory Committee.


Martina Allen
is the SPD's Budget Director.  She received her Master's Degree in Economics from Ostrava University in 2007.  Martina began her career with the State of Wisconsin with the Department of Corrections as a Budget Analyst for the largest and most complex division of Adult Institutions in 2010.  Martina joined SPD in 2012 as a Fiscal Officer and brings a wealth of international business experience with her.

Martina is originally from the Czech Republic, but moved to the United States with her husband in 2009.  While working in Prague, Martina worked as a Financial Controller at well-known international companies such as Maersk Logistics and Nestle.  Martina enjoys traveling, ice hockey, puzzles, and other pursuits that those without a financial background would likely find incredibly boring.


Cindy Archer
 is the Chief Information Officer for the Wisconsin State Public Defender's Office.  Cindy started with the agency in 2013.  Cindy has a public service career spanning almost 28 years beginning her career at the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau, spending over 11 years in the Wisconsin State Budget Office responsible primarily for criminal justice agency budgets and policy; four years as the Management Services Director for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and then moving to local government where she spent almost 8 years leading administration departments for Blackhawk Technical College, Brown County and Milwaukee County prior to returning to state service.  Upon returning to state service in 2011, Cindy served as the Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Administration and then Special Assistant/Legislative Advisor to the Secretary at the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.  Cindy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and Political Science from UW-LaCrosse and a Master’s Degree from UW-Madison in Public Policy and Administration.


Jennifer Bias
is the SPD's Trial Division Director.  Since beginning with the agency in 1987 as an assistant state public defender, she has served in a variety of leadership and litigation positions and was promoted to her current positions in June, 2000.  Previously, Jennifer served as First Assistant State Public Defender in Racine from 1995 to 2000 and Deputy First Assistant State Public Defender from 1993 to 1995.  As an Assistant State Public Defender, Jennifer handled a broad range of cases including felonies, misdemeanors, juvenile matters and commitments. She previously served on the Pardon Advisory Board, the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Commission, the Commission to Reduce Racial Disparity in the Wisconsin Criminal Justice System and the subsequent Oversight Commission, and the Governor's Task Force on Racial Profiling.  Jennifer served on a number of other boards including the Board of Governors for the Racine County Bar Association, Good Samaritan Board, and the Junior League Advisory Board.  In 2004, Jennifer was an unsuccessful candidate for Racine Circuit County Judge.  Also in 2004, she was appointed to serve as a team member to investigate conduct matters at Southern Oaks Girls School. Jennifer has presented at the annual public defender conference on a variety of topics.  She currently presents the “Best Defense Is No Offense” program to young people at schools, churches and community centers urging them to avoid violence, gangs and drugs.  In recognition of her outstanding commitment to community service, Jennifer received the Racine Journal Times Award in February 2003.  She has also received the Racine Interfaith Coalition Freedom Award (February 2002), the NAACP Attorney Ted Harris Award (October 2001), and the YWCA Women of Distinction Award (August 2001). Jennifer
 received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 1984 where she graduated magna cum laude, and received her law degree from the University of Iowa Law School in 1987.  She resides in Racine with her husband, Randall Luter.

Nancy McLean is the Human Resources Director for the SPD.  Nancy holds an undergraduate degree in Education and has a Master's Degree in Industrial and Labor Relations.  Nancy stated with the State of Wisconsin as a HR Specialist, moved into Employment Relations and was a Program and Policy Chief with the Department of Agriculture before coming to the SPD.  In addition, Nancy has over 20 years experience in the private sector in a variety of HR functions, including: promoting positive employee relations in an environment of change; recruitment and retention; design and implementation of policies and procedures; classification; and affirmative action.

Nancy also provides pro bono HR advice to two Madison-area non-profits: Project Home whose mission is to improve the quality and affordability of housing for low-to-moderate income residents in Dane and Green Counties; and Integrated Community Work, Inc. whose mission is to provide an array of supported employment opportunities to individuals with developmental disabilities.

Kathy Pakes joined the SPD as Legal Counsel in 2010 and currently serves as the Assigned Counsel Division Director.  She holds an undergraduate degree in Soviet and Eastern European Studies from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a law degree from Brandeis (University of Louisville).  After a brief stint in private civil practice Kathy began her career in criminal law as a staff attorney in the adult trial and appellate divisions of the Louisville-Jefferson County Public Defender in Kentucky.  In 2000 she was elected Rusk County (Wisconsin) District Attorney and held that position through 2009.  She received the 2007 Meritorious Service Award by the Wisconsin Association of Homicide Investigators and was named the 2009 Prosecutor of the Year by the Wisconsin District Attorneys’ Association.  Kathy has served as a district committee member for the Office of Lawyer of Regulation and as a Governor’s appointment to the Wisconsin Judicial Council.  She is a contributing editor to the WI Criminal Defense Manual and sits on the WisLap Committee for the State Bar.

Adam Plotkin
 has been the Legislative Liaison for the SPD since January 2011.  Adam received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2000.  Prior to that, he worked for a state legislator for 9 years in various capacities. Adam served as policy advisor, committee clerk for the Senate Committee on Labor, Elections, and Urban Affairs, and office manager. Adam is an active member of the community, most notably as Treasurer and Past President of Capitol Neighborhoods, Inc. (the downtown Madison neighborhood association), member of the City of Madison's Downtown Coordinating Committee, and Secretary of the Dane County Emergency Medical Services Commission.

Gina M. Pruski is Director of Training and Development for the SPD. She was appointed Training Director in 2004. Gina has been with the SPD since 1992, starting her legal career as a staff attorney in the SPD’s Fond du Lac Trial Office and then later becoming the agency’s Deputy Legal Counsel where she performed the legislative liaison duties on behalf of the agency.

Gina received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1989 and her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1992. She is also a 2000 graduate of Duke University's Strategic Leadership for State Executives Program. In February 2015, Gina was elected Vice-Chair of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association’s National Alliance of Indigent Defense Educators Committee and will serve as Chair in 2016-17. She is currently a member of the National Association for Public Defense’s Education Committee, the Wisconsin State Training Council (for which she served as Vice-Chair in 2009 and Chair in 2010) and Wisconsin’s Task Force on Children in Need. Gina previously served on the Child Welfare Executive Steering Committee and was a state reviewer for the Federal Child and Family Services Review in August 2003.

Gina has received extensive training in the area of racial justice facilitation and is one of the YWCA of Madison’s Race to Equity facilitators. She is also a member of the Franklin-Randall Schools’ Equity and Inclusion Committee. Gina is co-author of the Wisconsin Juvenile Law Handbook (1st, 2nd and 3rd editions) published by the State Bar of Wisconsin and regularly volunteers as a judge for the Evan A. Evans Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition.  Gina is a 2011 recipient of the Women in the Law honor bestowed by the Wisconsin Law Journal.

Diane Rondini has been a staff attorney with the SPD since 1987.  She currently serves as the agency's Legal Counsel.  She has also served as a practice group coordinator and private bar liaison from 2012 to 2019.  As a staff attorney, she represented children in delinquency proceedings, child in need of protection and services proceedings, and juvenile in need of protection and services proceedings.  She also represented parents in termination of parental rights proceedings.  Attorney Rondini is a 1984 graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BA degree in Political Science and a certificate in  Women's Studies.  She is a 1987 graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School.  Ms. Rondini has served as an adjunct professor at Bryant & Stratton College and Marquette University.  She services on the Advisory Board of the National Juvenile Defender Center and is the Co-Chairperson of the Midwest Juvenile Defender Center.  She is one of the founding attorneys of the Student Expulsion Prevention Project (StEPP).


Sara Ward-Cassady
is the Director of Administrative Services and joined the SPD in 2018. Sara was previously a Principal Court Research Consultant for the National Center for State Courts, and the Deputy Director of State Courts, Office of Court Operations, for the Wisconsin Court System. Sara holds a law degree from Marquette University, and an undergraduate degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.