Balancing Our Criminal Justice System: From Reform Prosecutors to Public Defender Judges

Balancing Our Criminal Justice System: From Reform Prosecutors to Public Defender Judges

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Thursday, Oct. 7 3:45 PM (Eastern)

Ends: Thursday, Oct. 7 4:45 PM (Eastern)

The movement to elect reform prosecutors is redefining prosecution and reshaping our criminal justice system, but these efforts will not be fully realized unless we also bring balance to our courtrooms. Our judiciary has a stark over-representation of judges who were former prosecutors and corporate lawyers. At the federal level, Trump made the imbalance even worse, picking ten times as many former prosecutors as former public defenders and criminal defense attorneys. But now, President Biden is committed to bringing greater balance and already has nominated a record number of public defenders to serve as judges. In this panel, you will hear from reform prosecutors, public defenders, criminal justice advocates, and court experts about how our imbalanced courts affect reform, why we need more judges with a public defender perspective, and how we can educate and activate around this issue.

This session is sponsored by Demand Justice.



Christopher Kang

Christopher Kang

Christopher Kang is Co-Founder and Chief Counsel of Demand Justice, which is building a progressive movement to restore balance and legitimacy to our nation’s courts.

Chris served in the Obama White House for nearly seven years, as Deputy Counsel to President Obama and Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs. He oversaw the selection, vetting, and confirmation of more than 220 of the president’s judicial nominees—who set records for the most people of color, women, and openly gay and lesbian judges appointed by a president. Chris also was in charge of advising President Obama on commutations and pardons from 2014 to 2015 and helped spearhead the confirmations of Supreme Court Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and passage of the Fair Sentencing Act to reduce the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.

Chris also has served as National Director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans and worked for Senate Democratic Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) for seven years, as Director of Floor Operations, Judiciary Committee Counsel, and Labor Counsel.

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Lawrence Krasner

Lawrence Krasner

Lawrence S. Krasner was officially sworn in on January 2, 2017, as the City of Philadelphia’s 26th District Attorney. Before being elected District Attorney, Mr. Krasner served of-counsel at Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt, and Flores, LLC. Larry was born in 1961 in St. Louis, the son of a World War II veteran and author father and evangelist mother. After attending public schools in St. Louis and the Philadelphia area, Larry earned degrees from the University of Chicago and Stanford Law School with the help of student loans and scholarships.

Mr. Krasner attended public school in the St. Louis and Philadelphia areas. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago in 1983 and his law degree from Stanford Law School in 1987, where he was selected to the Stanford Law Review. After multiple offers of employment in prosecutors’ and public defenders’ offices throughout the country, he worked as a public defender in Philadelphia from ’87 – ’91 and was then promoted to the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Philadelphia (’91- ’93). In 1993 he started his own private practice, specializing in criminal defense and police misconduct matters. He has remained in private practice ever since. During that time, Mr. Krasner has tried thousands of bench and jury trials in criminal and civil court in the Philadelphia area as well as other counties and states.

Throughout his 30 year career, Mr. Krasner has also proudly demonstrated a steadfast commitment to social justice, having defended protesters pro bono who were involved with movements including ACT UP, Black Lives Matter, progressive clergy with POWER, Casino-Free Philadelphia, DACA Dreamers, Decarcerate PA, anti-gun clergy with Heeding God’s Call, anti-poverty and homelessness advocates with Kensington Welfare Rights Union, Occupy Philly and Reclaim Philadelphia, and Grannies for Peace, among many others.

He has resided in Philadelphia for over 30 years with his wife of 28 years. His wife has been a judge of the Court of Common Pleas for 17 years. They have two adult sons.