FOR RELEASE: National Defender Investigator Association - National Conference April 2016

Feb 29, 2016

The National Defender Investigator Association (NDIA) and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) are pleased to announce the agenda for the 2016 NDIA/NLADA National Conference in Pittsburgh, PA., at the Omni William Penn Hotel, from April 6-8, 2016.  We are fortunate to have a strong and experienced national faculty to present on critical and emerging issues facing federal, state and county public defender attorneys, investigators and mitigation specialists, with a number of prominent speakers from across the country giving us their insights and wisdom.  The conference will provide a mix of both fundamental and cutting edge topics that will enable attendees to keep abreast of new developments and professional skills necessary to provide effective and efficient assistance to criminal defense teams.

Federal & State Technology Day
This year we will have presentations on Technology Day with critical topics such as Social Media Discovery, Digital Forensics, Using Technology for Factual Discovery, and What’s Left Behind when You Surf the Internet.  Learn how to protect your information and guard your privacy while utilizing the internet for your investigations.  We will also have sessions which will cover the Electronic Communications Act of 1986 and the Adam Walsh Act which will cover issues of digital forensics in child pornography cases.  In an ever-changing digital world, learn the latest technological challenges and changes that will benefit you and your investigations.  Choose from 14 different technology topics that will be presented by some of the best experts in the world.

Brain Matters: Effectively Serving and Defending the Needs of Clients
The theme for this year’s Thursday, April 7th and Friday, April 8th training will be “Brain Matters: Effectively Serving and Defending the Needs of Our Clients”.  We will examine some of the challenges and complexities involved when dealing with psychological factors and intellectual disabilities of our clients; How to Identify Intellectual Disabilities in death penalty cases and how to understand and deal with the issues associated with these disabilities; Adult and Childhood Sexual Trauma, and the therapeutic process that must occur in order for the individual to psychologically mend; and How to Select and Work with Mental Health Experts.  There will also be several ethics sessions including Cultural Sensitivity and Getting the Client’s Narrative, which will help the attendees understand how important it is to be culturally aware and sensitive and how this can go a long way in understanding your client; Legal Ethics During Social Media Discovery & Evidence Preservation; Ethical Dilemmas When Collecting Social Media Evidence, and Detection and Etiology of Substance Abuse: How to Utilize it as a Mitigator, which have all been approved for attorney CLE credits by the states of Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) will be covered in two sessions beginning with a groundbreaking study of Wisconsin Defense Attorneys and the effects of “compassion fatigue” resulting from continued exposure to others’ traumatic experiences, and continuing with a hands-on session with Dr. Andrew Levin who was involved with the original Wisconsin study.  Groups will discuss the symptoms of PTSD and participate in exercises which will help participants think about the various ways they may have been challenged by client stories they have heard or dealt with while working on their cases.

Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan, Chief Medical Examiner, Knox County Forensic Center, will present on Variants of Abusive Childhood Head Trauma and Its Mimics, covering the different opinions on abusive head trauma in children and how it has polarized the experts and medical professionals in general to almost epic proportions across the world.

Besides these offerings, there will be concurrent sessions on topics such as Utilizing Eye-Witness Identification Experts at Trial, and A Convergence of Circumstances: What We Can Learn from Baltimore, both presented by Jason Downs, Esq., who represented the family of Freddie Gray in the civil rights lawsuit against the city of Baltimore; Team Defense in Criminal Cases presented by renowned attorney, author and Dean, Andrea Lyon with Mort Smith; and Inspirational Speaker, Attorney and Marine Justin Constantine will present a plenary session on Veterans and Post Trauma Stress.

The 2016 conference faculty, composed of a mix of experts and practitioners, bring a wealth of experience that is directly relevant to attorneys, investigators and mitigation specialists day-to-day work.  As the only national organization whose constituency is dedicated solely to the investigative arm of indigent defense, NDIA is committed more than ever to providing timely and relevant continuing education to criminal defense personnel.  If you have any questions about the NDIA/NLADA conference in Pittsburgh, or to access the detailed conference agenda, please view the NDIA website at  You may also contact Beverly Davidson, Administrative Officer, NDIA at, or the Conference Chair, Karen Jackson, Chief Investigator, Public Defender Services, DC, at