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Board Election

  • IPDC
  • Current: Board Election

The 2023 IPDC Board Election is now open

It's that time of year to vote for members to serve on IPDC's Board of Directors. IPDC's Board of Directors guides the work on behalf of you, the members of IPDC.  Directors serve a two (2) year term and may serve no more than 3 consecutive terms (6 consecutive years.)  Terms are staggered such that 5 seats are up for election each year.  If you are a public defender and you received an email from ElectionRunner, you are eligible to vote for up to 5 candidates now.

The election will close on June 9, 2023, at 12:15 and the names of the winning candidates will be announced during the afternoon session of IPDC's Annual Update event.   Please take a few minutes to review the candidate's information below.  The candidates are listed in alphabetical order by last name.


Before going to the election page, please check your email for an email from Electionrunner that will include your ID and Key, which you will need to vote.

Click the link below to be redirected to the voting site.RCV applications and ballot tools - FairVote

Michael Ausbrook

Number of Years as a Public Defender: 23

County where candidate primarily provides public defense services: Elkhart

Candidate’s Statement

I am asking for your vote to become a member of the Board of the IPDC. I have an actual platform, which includes at least one specific item that I think needs attention. Then there are a couple of more global things to work on.

1. Money for county contract counsel in misdemeanor cases needs to be improved.

After reading a post on the current iteration of Defendnet about a 300-case workload on contract in a county to take misdemeanors, I did a quick calculation that the pay for that was something like five dollars an hour.

Nobody is doing public defense work to get rich. But that doesn't mean that public defense of misdemeanors should be seen as charity. Public prosecution of misdemeanors is certainly not seen or treated as such.

I *don't* know what can be done about this. The first thing to do is probably to get the data from the counties that have public defense contracts. If the data is compelling—and I am reasonably certain it will be—I think *maybe* *something can be done about it.

2. There are holes in the public defense system that ways might be found to fill.

Almost alone, for ten years I've been trying to fill one of them: federal habeas representation. But there are others state-side. As the faculty advisor for ILAP (The Incarcerated Individuals Project) at Maurer, I see the letters prisoners write to students for help with their legal problems. I also see all the habeas petitions filed in the Indiana federal courts. And then there are the letters I get cold from people. There are some systemic things that keep coming up that could be taken care of.

3. Criminal defense is a group effort—actually the effort of a groups of groups.

The current iteration of Defendnet is obviously a tremendous resource for all of us. I think there are other ways to get all the groups involved in public defense even better connected. I will say that when the original Defendnet died, and the new listserv was publicly exposed—something I discovered—I put up a listserv, INPD-L, just to keep things going while a fix was found for the public-exposure problem.

I've been doing the work for a long time, now—not the trial work, but *everything* else. I am asking for your vote to be a member of the IPDC Board so that I can have a voice for you in organizing the work in ways that will make us all more effective.

Courtney Benson-Kooy

Number of Years as a Public Defender: 11

County where the candidate primarily provides public defense services: Marion

Candidate’s Statement

My name is Courtney Benson-Kooy. I am a 2012 graduate of IU McKinney School of Law. I knew early on in law school that public defense was my calling. Everything I have done up to this point in my career has been centered around indigent defense. Prior to graduation, I had the pleasure of working as a law clerk at the State Public Defender’s Office. After graduation, I started working at the Marion County Public Defender’s Agency (MCPDA). I am currently an Assistant Supervisor of the Major Felony Division at the MCPDA. I have tried numerous juries ranging from misdemeanors to murders. My passion lies in helping and representing clients with serious mental health concerns and juveniles charged in adult courts. I also enjoy teaching and mentoring younger attorneys. I love spending time with my daughter, husband, and dogs as well as my extended family.

I would like to serve on the IPDC Board of Directors first and foremost because I would like to be more involved in the legislative process. I have been fighting for clients in the courtroom for 11 years now. I want to do more. I would like to be involved in discussing how best to effect change at the legislative level. Additionally, as an assistant supervisor at MCPDA, I get the opportunity to work with young attorneys and observe them in court. This puts me in a unique position to see where trial public defenders may need or want additional training or help and I may also be of assistance in determining how to best reach those lawyers. By being on the board of directors I’d have the opportunity to do this on a broader scale assisting and representing public defenders across the state.

Sharon Breitenbach

Number of Years as a Public Defender: 6

County where candidate primarily provides public defense services: Miami

Candidate’s Statement

I have served as a public defender for the last six years. I am currently a public defender in Miami County, Grant County, and do conflict cases in Fulton County. I have also been a public defender in Wabash County in the past. I believe in quality representation for indigent defendants. Public Defenders tend to have a bad reputation. I am committed to changing that perception for the indigent clients I am appointed to. I have utilized the services IPDC has offered us as public defenders and greatly appreciate them.  I have done case conferences for cases I am preparing for trial. I actually won on one count in a difficult case because I had a case conference and was made aware of some helpful case law. I often utilize the online CLEs and have attended the annual update seminar. I have a lot of admiration for our council and would like to be more involved with it.

Jim Comerford

Number of Years as a Public Defender: 12

County where the candidate primarily provides public defense services: Marion

Candidate’s Statement

Being a public defender means the world to me. To protect the rights of my clients, work to get them out of jail, fight for their innocence, and help get them access to services like mental health and drug treatment, is a privilege and an honor. I would like to be part of the Board because I want to help public defenders in Indiana and support them in every way that I can. My twelve years of experience includes representing clients at every level of adult defense from misdemeanors to murder and appeals. I have attended the National Criminal Defense College in Macon, GA. I am currently a team leader in the major felony division of the Marion County Public Defender Agency. I have mentored many newer public defenders. I hope you will consider me for the Board of Directors.

Rebecca Gray

Number of Years as a Public Defender: 6

County where the candidate primarily provides public defense services: Shelby

Candidate’s Statement

My name is Rebecca Gray and I would love to serve on IPDC's Board of Directors. I have been a major felony public defender in Shelby County since 2016. I was a prosecutor in Miami Florida before making the decision to abandon the dark side and follow those who truly pursue justice. Being a public defender for me is more than a job, it is a calling. I love what I do and I am so very proud to work alongside each of you as a voice for the voiceless. Vote for me!

Talisha Griffin

Number of Years as a Public Defender: 6

County where the candidate primarily provides public defense services: Marion

Candidate’s Statement

I am a young, bi-racial attorney who will bring a diverse perspective and background to the Board if elected. My entire legal career has been devoted to serving clients who cannot afford legal representation while working to improve the challenges our public defense system faces.

Since graduating from law school in May 2017, I have been with the Marion County Public Defender Agency. I have experience as both a trial and appellate attorney. Currently, I am the Assistant Chief of the Appellate Division. Although I maintain a full-time appellate caseload, I still sit second chair on trials to maintain my trial experience and cover varying courts, when needed. My six years of public defense work include criminal, juvenile, civil commitment, adoption, and TPR/CHINS cases.

I will bring a holistic perspective of the statewide problems our public defense system faces to the Board. As an appellate attorney, I work to address issues involving judges failure to follow procedures to ensure a juror holds no bias, as in Easler v. State, 131 N.E.3d 584 (Ind. 2019), and I join defenders across the state who experience issues involving erroneous interpretation/application of standard rules and our constitutions as in Minges v. State, 192 N.E.3d 893 (Ind. 2022), out of Dearborn County, and Doroszko v. State, 201 N.E.3d 1151 (Ind. 2023), out of St. Joseph County. I am aware of the issues we face involving equal pay, misdemeanor reimbursement, and high caseloads. I want to help solve these issues.

In addition to my work at the Agency, I am actively involved in our legal community.

  • I am an Adjunct Professor at the IU-McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis, where I teach Appellate Practice and Criminal Procedure Advocacy Skills
  • I sit on the Appellate Executive Committee for IndyBar and assist with the Indiana Appellate Institute, through which I arrange and participate in practice oral arguments for attorneys throughout the state.
  • I have been involved with IPDC as an organizer and presenter for CLE
  • Presented for the 2022 Annual Appellate Seminar
  • Organized the Dismantling Bias CLE presented by Dr. Browne-Marshall in 2022.
  • I helped organize a diversity CLE for Indiana State Bar last year: Perspectives from Black Judges & Justice of Indiana’s Appellate Courts.
  • I have presented for IndyBar’s Applied Professional Course on surviving government practice for the past 3 years.

If elected to the Board, I will listen to your concerns and frustrations and work with the other board members to develop practical solutions, while advocating for all public defenders.

Kendal Gulbrandsen

Number of Years as a Public Defender: 12

County where the candidate primarily provides public defense services: Marion

Candidate’s Statement

My name is Kendal Gulbrandsen. I am the Misdemeanor Supervisor for the Marion County Public Defender Agency and I have held that position for almost 5 years now. Prior to that, I worked in every other adult criminal division at MCPDA, from misdemeanors (too many years ago) all the way up to major felonies, including representing clients charged with murders and sex crimes. I love being a public defender. I knew I wanted to be a criminal defense attorney going into law school and one internship with MCPDA and I was hooked. I joined MCPDA right out of law school and have been there ever since (12 years now!). I would be a great candidate for the IPDC Board of Directors because I have the unique ability to blend the perspectives of experienced and new attorneys. With 12 years of experience under my belt, I have experienced just about every kind of adult criminal case under the sun. But I also see a new class of interns and attorneys every year, so I am able to see, speak to, and represent the fears, hopes, dreams, and concerns of our newest generation of public defenders as well. I have also worked to assist not only Marion County public defenders, but public defenders in other counties as well, through teaching multiple IPDC CLEs, participating in brainstorms with PDs from other counties, and even speaking about issues affecting public defenders in front of our legislators. I would love to continue to have the opportunity to help connect public defenders across the State of Indiana by serving on the Board.

Mark Koselke

Number of Years as a Public Defender: 8

County where candidate primarily provides public defense services: Marion

Candidate’s Statement

I am applying to be a member of the Indiana Public Defender Council’s Board of Directors. My hopes are that I can give back to IPDC if selected to be a board member. IPDC helped me tremendously as a new attorney. The resources and training provided aided my development in becoming the attorney that I am today. I believe helping to prepare manuals of procedure, assisting with the preparation of trials briefs, conducting research for attorneys throughout Indiana, and helping IPDC grow by continuing contact with study commissions seem like the best way for me to serve the defense community. My varied legal experience makes me a good candidate for the board.

I earned my law degree in 2015 from the Robert H. McKinney School of Law.  I work with the State Public Defender’s Office where I litigate post-conviction relief cases. My leadership and other duties include: advising colleagues as the Litigation Specialist, working on the Merit Review Committee, assisting juvenile clients through the Trial Rule 60(B) Group, and working on our office's Capital Unit. I’ve mentored both in my current office and at my last. I began interning with the Marion County Public Defender’s Office prior to being hired in 2015.   I was in the courtroom frequently as an intern but that increased to daily when I was hired.  I had bench and jury trials, conducted depositions and taped statements, acted as co-counsel, dealt with experts, mentored new attorneys, and have been on numerous teams while a public defender at the Marion County Public Defender’s Office.

I believe IPDC is an invaluable resource for the community, and it is my hope that you will allow me to serve you.

Stephanie Kress

Number of Years as a Public Defender: 12

County where the candidate primarily provides public defense services: Decatur

Candidate’s Statement

My name is Stephanie Kress and I have been practicing law since 2009.  I am an independent contractor with Rolfes, Garvey, Walker & Robbins in Greensburg, Decatur County, IN where I primarily practice family law, including serving as a Guardian ad Litem in private family law matters.  Another focus area of my practice is serving as a public defender in the realm of CHINS and TPR defense in Decatur and Rush Counties. It is a matter about which I feel very strongly, but it is a terribly disjointed, dysfunctional system, which only amplifies the need for parents to have attorneys who can help them navigate the long, winding road of the child welfare system.  If I were selected as a board member, I would desire to be a part of training for new attorneys and advocating in legislative matters relating to CHINS and TPR law and tangentially related matters.  I am grateful to have been given a number of opportunities by IPDC to attend various conferences in this area of law, which has served to increase my knowledge and advocacy in representing parents and holding DCS accountable.  I would hope to continue that as an IPDC board member.

Matthew Lorch

Number of Years as a Public Defender: 12

County where the candidate primarily provides public defense services: Floyd

Candidate’s Statement

Criminal defense has been a part of my entire career of 19 years practicing law in Indiana and Kentucky. I've served 12 years as a public defender in Indiana, and have been the Chief Public Defender in Floyd County for just over a year. I have a long history of involvement in serving my community through various boards and organizations. I work hard daily to raise the level of service my office provides to its indigent clients and to do what I can to improve the options and services available for clients within our local justice system. It would be an honor to take those efforts to another level with IPDC and to serve on a broader scale within the mission of public defense that I have come to know and love. More about my experience and history can be found here:

Shaunda Colleen Lynch

Number of Years as a Public Defender: 12

County where candidate primarily provides public defense services: Daviess

Candidate’s Statement

I would like to continue to serve on IPDC's Board of Directors for several reasons. First, the IPDC is a wonderful resource for our State Public Defenders.  Being deeply involved with the Board and IPDC's various resources allows me to be a direct liaison for our defenders in the Southern District. Secondly, contributing to the Board to help support or challenge proposed or existing legislation allows me to have a more direct influence on the impact of the law and process for our clients. Thirdly, interacting and participating with such varied and talented individuals on the Board helps me to be inspired and driven to better serve our clients. In turn, I can then become inspirational to other defenders to do the same.

Robert Eugene Poynter

Number of Years as a Public Defender: Off and on for 50 years

County where candidate primarily provides public defense services: Tippecanoe

Candidate’s Statement

I have practiced law in many disciplines since I graduated from Indiana University Law School in 1966. During that time, I courts asked me to represent criminal defendants as a pro bono representation that usually signaled I would not be paid, Lawyers were expected to do this duty for the public good. Further, I  have worked as a Deputy Prosecutor in Tippecanoe County Indiana. Once, at the instance  of the US District Court Judge sitting in Tippecanoe County, I was appointed to represent federal defendants. Later, the Seventh Circuit appointed me to appeal convictions for two criminal defendants who had been convicted for federal crimes. I filed an appeal with the Seventh Circuit and attended oral arguments that the accused were denied a fair trial because of faulty advise of rights. The Court denied the appeal. I then filed a writ of certiorari with the US Supreme Court which again denied the appeal. But the Supreme Court awarded me a certificate of admission to the US Supreme Court that now hangs in my home office. I did not get paid for all of that effort from the District Court to the US Supreme Court.

I will later add my complete resume both legal and performance because I am a thespian and an accomplished magician. ROBERT E. POYNTER

Alicia M. Pratt

Number of Years as a Public Defender: 6 years

County where the candidate primarily provides public defense services: Tippecanoe

Candidate’s Statement

Alicia Pratt and I have been a Public Defender since 2016, I would like to be on the board to help make a difference and changes if needed to assist our clients.

Denise L. Turner 

Current Board Member

Number of Years as a Public Defender: 13

County where the candidate primarily provides public defense services: Lawrence

Candidate’s Statement

I have been a public defender since being admitted to the bar in 2010.  I worked at the Marion County Public Defender Agency for the first 6 years of my career and then became a part-time public defender in Lawrence County. In addition to being a part-time public defender, I also work in private practice in many counties in the state. Practicing in multiple counties across the state gives me a unique perspective that helps add to the diversity of the Board.  I have enjoyed serving on the board for the last two years and would like to continue my service.  I believe my experience and passion for public service will continue to be an asset to the public defense community.

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