The Leadership Team
The Department's leadership team works with Lorinda Youngcourt to ensure DPD is providing excellent legal representation to its clients. The team also sets policy for the Department, identifies top priorities in criminal justice reform, oversees DPD's budget and operations, works with the judiciary and prosecutor on shared concerns and engages in external relationship-building with a range of criminal justice partners. Each member of the team brings considerable skill and talent to the Department as well as a deep commitment to quality public defense.
Jeanette Brinster, Managing Attorney
Jeanette Brinster is the managing attorney at the Northwest Defenders Division, where she has worked since 1993. As managing attorney, she oversees and manages a staff of about 60, monitoring caseloads, providing case strategy review, covering court hearings and calendars, when needed, recommending individuals for promotion and handling a wide array of office needs. Jeanette received her law degree from Golden Gate University Law School.
Twyla Carter, Misdemeanor Practice Director
Twyla Carter works with the divisions' misdemeanor teams, helping to support the practice, providing training and mentoring, acting as a liaison with partners in the criminal justice system and advocating on behalf of needed reforms. She also often speaks to groups and organizations and serves on several boards, including TeamChild and the King County Juvenile Justice Equity Steering Committee. Twyla got her law degree from Seattle University School of Law.
Gwen Clemens, Chief of Operations
As chief of operations, Gwen Clemens oversees the Department's finance division and works with others in King County to ensure DPD employees have the resources, technology and technical support they need to provide strong public defense. She also represents the department at various county operational meetings and acts as the liaison to the Public Defense Advisory Board. She holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Policy and has spent most of her career working in government.
Louis Frantz, Felony Practice Director
Louis (Lou) Frantz works with the divisions' felony teams, helping to support the practice, acting as a liaison with the courts and prosecutor's office and addressing any issues related to jail access for DPD support staff. He also handles expert services requests. Lou got his law degree from the University of Puget Sound Law School (now Seattle University) and has been a public defender his entire professional life.
Tom Griffiths, Managing Attorney
Tom Griffiths is the managing attorney at the Society of Counsel Representing Accused Persons Division. As such, he has a vast array of duties, including supervision of staff, case strategy review, caseload management, office management and division-wide communications. He also oversees staffing changes, potential case conflicts and facility needs within his division. He got his JD from Northeastern University School of Law, taught at University of Kentucky Law School and has practiced in nearly every area of criminal defense, including capital defense.
Anita Khandelwal, Policy Director
Anita Khandelwal works with other members of the leadership team to develop both internal and external policies and plays a lead role in setting and overseeing the Department's agenda for criminal justice reform and systemic advocacy and change. She also coordinates DPD's amicus briefs, reviews claims against the Department, handles requests submitted to the Department under the Public Records Act and provides legal ethics oversight. She got her law degree from Yale University and is a board member for the Public Defender Association in Seattle.
La Mer Kyle-Griffiths, Training Director
As the Department's first training director, La Mer Kyle-Griffiths is both developing and implementing a Department-wide training program for attorneys, investigators, mitigation specialists, paralegals and other staff, working to address growth and development at all levels of the organization. She brings a passion for training to DPD as well as considerable experience as a trainer and faculty member at various programs and institutes across the country. La Mer received her JD from the University of Dayton Law School. She has experience in all aspects of criminal defense, with a particular focus on juvenile defense.
Rick Lichtenstadter, Managing Attorney
Rick Lichtenstadter is the managing attorney at The Defender Association Division, where he supervises staff, provides case strategy review, oversees office management, monitors caseloads and handles the other myriad duties that come with running a large office of attorneys, paralegals, investigators and more. Rick has been a public defender since he got his JD at the University of Oregon Law School. Before he became a lawyer, he worked as a supervised release counselor for King County Court Services.
Floris Mikkelsen, Deputy Director
As deputy director, Floris Mikkelsen performs all the duties of the director, as needed, when the director is absent. She provides hands-on leadership on the development of DPD's annual budget, caseload compliance, staffing issues and policy formulation and supervises the managing attorneys. She also negotiates city and state public defense contracts. She got her law degree in 1981 from Antioch Law School in Washington, D.C., a pioneering school that specialized in public interest law, and has worked in public defense her entire career.
Burns Petersen, Assigned Counsel Director
As DPD's first director of assigned counsel, Burns Petersen is responsible for recruiting and selecting DPD's assigned counsel panels, outside attorneys who represent clients for the Department when DPD cannot do so due to prior representation of involved parties (called "conflicts" in the world of law firms). He also updates polices and practices governing assigned counsel, coordinates case reassignents when attorneys leave the panels and reviews and responds to expert service requests. Burns, a graduate of University of Puget Sound Law School (now Seattle University), is active in the King County Bar Association.
Joshua Saunders, Managing Attorney
Joshua Saunders is the managing attorney at the Associated Counsel for the Accused Division, supervising approximately100 attorneys, investigators, paralegals, mitigation specialists and others working to provide quality public defense to indigent clients. He has been a public defender since obtaining his law degree from New York University School of Law and most recently worked at Brooklyn Defender Services, where he co-founded the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, an innovative nonprofit that prevents unnecessary pretrial detention by paying bail for low-income defendants. He continues to serve on the organization's board of directors.