The Office of
Defense Services


Employees with the Office of Defense Services have been fortunate enough to receive a variety of local, state, and national honors over the years.

The office has twice been the recipient of the Governor’s Team Excellence Award and our Attorneys have been named among the top practitioners in their field of expertise, as well as recognized for their service to the community. For 11 years running, the News Journal has named the Office of Defense Services as one of Delaware’s Top Workplaces.

Partners for Justice (PFJ), a nationally recognized nonprofit that partners with public defender agencies to transform the criminal legal system, awarded Office of Defense Services (ODS) Director of Training and Development, Dawn Williams, with its Legacy Award in December of 2022. Williams received the award for her dedication to collaborative defense and her years of mentoring the next generation of advocates. Read more here.

In April of 2022, Office of Defense Services Appellate Division Chief Nicole Walker was elected to serve as a member of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers (AAAL). Nicole is one of two attorneys in Delaware and one four public defenders nationwide to be elected to the AAAL. Read more here.

At the end of 2021, two of our incredibly talented attorneys, Meryem Dede and Dawn Williams, were recognized by the Delaware State Bar Association.

Meryem, who is a felony-level attorney in New Castle County, was awarded the 2020 Young Lawyers Distinguished Service Award for her advocacy to end debtors’ prisons.

Dawn, who is the ODS’s Director of Training and Development, received the 2020 Distinguished Mentoring Award for her many years of service, mentoring, and development of various training programs.

In 2019, Brendan O’Neill, the former Chief Defender, was honored with the ACLU of Delaware’s Kandler Award for his career in public defense. He shared the award alongside Charlotte King from the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice. Read more here.

In 2018, Chief Defender Kevin O’Connell given the ACLU of Delaware’s Clarence Darrow Award outstanding legal service and support of the ACLU.

In 2017, Lisa Minutola, our Chief of Legal Services, was honored by the Delaware Center for Justice with the inaugural Stand Up for what is Right and Just (SURJ) Award. Lisa was recognized for her commitment to reforming Delaware’s juvenile justice system, as well as being a major player behind the success of several recent reforms, such as the prohibition of shackling juveniles, the expansion of the state’s juvenile expungement statute, and the creation of a civil citation program.

In 2016, Delaware Today Magazine named Lisa Minutola a Top Lawyer for juvenile law. For a number of years, Lisa has been at the forefront of juvenile justice reform in Delaware.

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