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  • Current: Board Election

2022 IPDC Board Election Candidates

IPDC's Board of Directors is comprised of 10 elected members plus the Public Defender of Indiana.  Five of the 10 members are elected each year to serve two-year terms.  If you are a public defender in Indiana, you are eligible to vote for up to five candidates to serve on IPDC's Board of Directors.  Below are the candidates for this year's election.  Please take a few moments to read through each candidate's statement.

When you are ready to vote, click the link below to be redirected to IPDC's voting site.  Instructions to log in and vote will be found on that voting site.

Deana Martin

Deana Martin

Number of years as PD: 16

County where candidate primarily provides public defense services:  Marion

Candidate’s statement:

My name is Deana Martin. I have had the privilege of serving on the IPDC Board of Directors for two terms and would like the opportunity to serve a third. Growing up I never wanted to do or be anything other than a public defender. I have my dream job! Even though there are rough days and battles that seem really unnecessary, I’m thankful that I realized my dream and continue to live it every day.

I was lucky enough to meet two of the most amazing, strong, and passionate public defenders when I was in law school and they were my professors. They continue to be both friends and mentors. And, in the 16 years I’ve been practicing law I’ve been fortunate to meet other mentors who gave their time, parts of their souls, and ultimately the skills and knowledge I needed to fight for my clients. I certainly wouldn’t be the defender that I am today without inspirational and influential mentors that showed me the passion & commitment that our clients deserve.

IPDC and our members are special. We have lawyers with decades of experience, wisdom, and some battle scars and others who have only recently stepped out of the classroom (much of which they probably spent on Zoom) with the energy and thirst to get in the courtroom and live out their dreams. The support and training IPDC provides to all its members, new and old alike, is wonderful but can always and should always be improved. We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to our clients.

IPDC has offered numerous free or very reasonably priced CLE’s the last couple of years, both in-person and online. I’d like to see that continue. The State is always going to have more resources than we do. Our training and education are what allow us to walk in a courtroom, stand side by side with an indigent client, and know we can go toe to toe with any cop, any prosecutor, or any judge any day. I’d like as much free or nearly free training as we can provide. Have you participated in a case review? If not, I highly encourage you to do so. They’re free, you get CLE credit, and they can be done online or in person. If you don’t have a case that currently needs brainstorming, maybe you have an hour or so to help another member with their case review. The collaboration, whether in case reviews, training, or assistance on “defendnet” makes us all better defenders and improves the outcomes for our indigent clients.

Here are a couple of things I’d like to focus more on in the next couple of years – legislative wins and new attorney outreach. Every year it seems like there are more and more laws that create new crimes, are more punitive, or eliminate some of the assistance or protections our clients currently have. Thinking or saying, “It could have been worse. There were other bills that didn’t pass that were even more draconian,” is not a winning attitude. It’s true. IPDC has managed to successfully push back on some awful legislative bills, but I’d like a stronger focus on improving our legislative successes.

I’d also like IPDC to take a more proactive approach to reach out to newer public defenders, particularly in smaller counties, to assist and mentor them. Classes may teach the law but not a strategy. Trial advocacy classes don’t teach client advocacy or how to handle a hostile, mentally ill, institutionalized, or clueless client. These are things that most learn the hard way. I’d like us to proactively work to make the next generation of public defenders the best client advocates they can be and hopefully help them avoid some of the headaches and pitfalls most of us have endured because we didn’t know what we didn’t know.

Finally, I couldn’t tell you about who I am and what I care about without mentioning my adorable but incorrigible Pitbulls, Deuce and Wimbledon. They like to make appearances on Zoom, destroy toys, watch tennis (of course), and lose their flipping minds at every squirrel in the neighborhood.



Kay A. Beehler

Kay A. Beehler

Number of years as PD: 30

County where the candidate primarily provides public defense services:  Vigo

Candidate’s statement:

Two years ago I was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the Indiana Public Defender Council. I have been impressed with the work ethic, skills, and sincere commitment of the staff of IPDC, my fellow board members, and our membership in general as we worked during those two years. Those two years included working through and during a global pandemic when virtually every aspect of the practice of criminal law was turned upside down. The Board worked with IPDC Staff to continue the support and assistance to public defenders, including maintaining a training schedule, working to solve various IT issues, and maintaining our involvement in the legislative processes that affect each of us.

This is a WORKING BOARD. We make a great effort to improve all facets of public defense in Indiana, for practitioners in all regions. I am seeking re-election to the IPDC Board in order to continue our collaborative work and reach the goals we have set to improve the representation of indigent clients throughout Indiana.



Joel Schumm

Joel Schumm

Number of years as PD: 21

County where candidate primarily provides public defense services:  Marion

Candidate’s statement:

For more than twenty years, I have been a contractual appellate public defender in Marion County while litigating occasional public defense or pro bono appeals from other counties.  Recent appeals include Gammons v. State, 148 N.E.3d 301 (Ind. 2020) (reversal based on improper self-defense jury instruction) and K.C.G. v. State, 156 N.E.3d 1281 (Ind. 2020) (juvenile courts lack jurisdiction over the offense of dangerous possession of a firearm). The tireless work of trial counsel and generosity of other appellate lawyers are behind these and every appellate success. Public defense is my passion, and my full-time job at the IU McKinney School of Law allows me to teach a variety of courses including juvenile justice, Indiana Constitutional Law, and the Appellate Clinic.

I very much appreciate the opportunity to serve on the Board for the past two years and ask for your support to continue that service for a second term. I have attended and actively participated in every Board and Committee meeting as well as testifying on behalf of IPDC-supported legislation before the General Assembly. I have presented more than thirty CLEs for IPDC, including recent ones on appellate practice, bail, and Indiana’s new double jeopardy jurisprudence. I wrote the IPDC Appellate Practice Manual as well as written several IPDC amicus briefs, including briefs on Criminal Rule 26 and the child deposition statute during my Board term. I regularly and happily assist public defenders from around the state.

Although I live in Marion County, I firmly believe in the importance of elevating and assisting public defenders from every county and background in the state. I promise to be a voice for all public defenders and public defense clients.



Renee Ortega

Renee Ortega

Number of years as PD: 7

County where candidate primarily provides public defense services:  Lake

Candidate’s statement:

My name is Renee M. Ortega and I have been a juvenile public defender in Lake County, Indiana for eight years.  The body of my public defender practice has been CHINS and TPR work along with appeals for CHINS, TPR, and delinquencies.  I was appointed to the Board in 2021 to take the place of Julia Stephens who took a staff position with IPDC.  I understand the difficulties and nuances that go with representing clients in CHINS and TPRs and how the proper support and training to manage those situations can go a long way towards reducing stress and maintaining successful client relationships.  My goal on the board is to make sure that juvenile public defenders, especially those whose main practice is CHINS and TPRs, have a voice in shaping policy and law that affects our clients’ rights to their children.  Additionally, as a Latina and Spanish speaker, I believe I can bring to the board a unique perspective that better helps us understand and serve the people we represent.



Jeremy P. Gooch

Jeremy P. Gooch

Number of years as PD: 18

County where candidate primarily provides public defense services:  Hendricks

Candidate’s statement:

Jeremy P. Gooch is a 2001 graduate of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

In August 2002, Jeremy joined the law firm of HINKLE & GIBBS in Danville, Indiana.  Over the course of the next 15 ½ years, Jeremy spent his time working for the citizens of Hendricks County as a private attorney handling criminal law matters.  Additionally, Jeremy provided public defender services to the indigent accused throughout the Hendricks County Courts.  For a number of these years, he served as the main public defender for the Honorable Mark A. Smith in Hendricks Superior Court No. 4.  In this role, Jeremy served as the sole public defender for the Hendricks County Drug Court from its inception to June 2017.

In June 2017, the Hendricks County Commissioners hired Jeremy to become Hendricks County’s first Chief Public Defender with the direction to create a new system of providing indigent defense services to those in need.  With an immense amount of support and assistance, he now heads the Hendricks County Public Defenders Office.  In this capacity, he oversees approximately thirty-five (35) part-time public defenders.  Additionally, Jeremy maintains a partial caseload, continuing his work for the indigent accused.

Jeremy and his wife, Danyel, reside in Brownsburg with their son, Curtis, and an impossibly stubborn basset hound, Henry.


Lisa Malmer Johnson

Number of years as PD: 30

County where candidate primarily provides public defense services:  Marion

Candidate’s statement:

I have been a public defender in this state for almost thirty years.  Most of my career thus far has been devoted to post-conviction cases, including several capital cases, criminal appeals, TPR and CHINS appeals, and juvenile appeals.  I worked for the Public Defender of Indiana for thirteen years before going out on my own in 2005.

I consider everyone associated with the IPDC, both staff and members, to be my colleagues.  These individuals are an amazing resource for public defenders and private defense attorneys across the state.

I have always said that anyone who thinks lawyers are greedy and selfish should get to know the criminal defense bar in Indiana.  They are some of the kindest and most helpful people I have ever known.  On many occasions, I have seen IPDC staff and members drop everything to step in and help a colleague with a complicated strategic or ethical dilemma.  They never hesitate to share their vast experience, talents, and skills with others.  I personally have been on the receiving end of this largess many times.  As a sole proprietor, my ability to provide effective representation is greatly enhanced by the IPDC staff and members and the email lists.  I rely on the email lists almost every day for ideas and guidance.

As a board member, I will bring my knowledge and experience, as well as an intense passion for the cause of criminal defense advocacy, to the table.  I am well versed in criminal law and procedure, civil procedure, constitutional law, appellate advocacy, and post-conviction law.  Even though I do not conduct jury trials, I have quite a bit of litigation experience from doing post-conviction hearings and an occasional sentencing hearing.  I have occasionally sat as the second chair at a jury trial.

In this era of mass incarceration, I feel it is crucial for all of our clients, from trial to federal habeas corpus and every stage in between, to have top-quality representation.  If elected, I will do everything in my power to work with the other board members to advance the cause and help the IPDC continue to be the amazing and indispensable resource that it has always been.  I will make every effort to fight the never-ending erosion of our client's rights by the courts and our elected officials.  I will do everything I can to help empower Indiana’s defense bar to effectively deal with prosecutors who refuse to play fair and courts who insist on ignoring the Constitution, the law, and the facts.

Thank you very much for your consideration.



Thomas Patrick Keller

Number of years as PD: 21

County where candidate primarily provides public defense services:  St. Joseph

Candidate’s statement:

My name is Thomas Keller, and I am submitting my name as a candidate for the Indiana Public Defender Council.
I was born in Illinois and raised in Fairfield Connecticut. I attended Fairfield University as an undergraduate, obtaining a B.A. in 1988. After spending a year working at a law firm in New York, I moved to Indiana to attend the University of Notre Dame Law School.

I met my wife, Bridget there. We married after graduation, and soon after settled into life in South Bend. I opened his law practice in 1995. I became a St. Joseph County Public Defender in 2001. I have been a part-time public defender since then. Currently, I am assigned to major crimes. I represented the last capital murder defendant in St. Joseph County

My wife and I have two children. I have served on various boards and community groups over the years. I am currently on the Board of Governors for the St. Joseph County Bar Association, and on the Board of Directors for Dismas House of Indiana, an offender re-entry group home.

Having been a public defender for over 20 years, I feel that I should give something back to the IPDC for their assistance not just to me, but to public defenders across Indiana.