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 A Short History of the Public Defender

A Short History of the Metropolitan
Public Defender's Office

The Davidson County Public Defender’s Office was created by a Private Act of the Tennessee Legislature in 1961 and the first Davidson County Public Defender was elected in 1962. In 1963, the original Metro Charter recognized the continuation of the Davidson County Public Defender's Office.  The Public Defender is elected for a four-year term.

The Public Defender's Office was originally located in the Metropolitan Courthouse.  The office was later divided into two divisions: The Adult or Criminal Division is located at 404 James Robertson Parkway, Suite 2022 and the Juvenile Division, is housed at the Juvenile Justice Center at 100 Woodland Street.

The Public Defender's Office represents clients in General Sessions Court, Criminal Court, Juvenile Court, and on cases appealed to both the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Supreme Court.

The office has grown from a single full-time lawyer to a staff of over seventy, including forty-three attorneys. The Public Defender's Office employs investigators and social workers to assist with its work. The attorneys represent defendants on charges ranging from public drunkenness to first degree murder. The Office also provides guardian ad litem services for indigent children who are the subject of neglect and dependency proceedings in Juvenile Court.

Past and Present Public Defender


 Dawn Deaner


 Ross Alderman
 1990-1999  Karl F. Dean
 1986-1990  William L. Shulman
 1982-1986  James L. Weatherly, Jr.
 1978-1982  Walter Kurtz
 1964-1978  James Havron
 1963  Sanders Anglea
 1962-1963  Charles Galbreath


Meet The Public Defender
In Memory of Ross Alderman
Mission, Vision and Creed
History of The Public Defender
Juvenile Division
Employment Opportunities
Staff Login

Location & Directions
Directory of Attorneys
Public Defender Staff
Useful Links
Court Resources
Information For Immigrants
The Sycamore Project
Issues in Indigent Defense

Suite 2022, Parkway Towers Building
404 James Robertson Parkway Nashville, TN 37219
Phone - 615.862.5730 | Fax - 615.862.5736
Email -
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