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DPA Education Manager Named

Melanie Foote Named New DPA Education Manager

The Department of Public Advocacy is happy to announce that Melanie Foote has been selected as the new Manager of the Education and Strategic Planning Branch, replacing retiring manager Jeff Sherr.

Melanie received undergraduate degrees in Political Science and in Media from the University of California, San Diego, and her law degree from Brooklyn Law School. Also a member of New York Bar, she has been practicing in Kentucky since she joined DPA’s Adult Post-Conviction Branch in 2007. During this time, she won the release and exoneration of Jason Girts, who had been wrongfully convicted based on false statements made by a witness. In 2009, she joined the Kentucky Innocence Project to work exclusively on claims of actual innocence and assisted several clients in proving their innocence through DNA testing. Melanie later served as a trial public defender in the Elizabethtown and LaGrange Trial Offices. While at the Elizabethtown Trial Office, Melanie represented Jose Padilla after his conviction was reversed by the United States Supreme Court because his prior attorney had not informed him that he would be deported if convicted. With Melanie’s assistance, Padilla’s charges were ultimately dismissed after a period of deferred prosecution, allowing him to remain in the United States. Even after Melanie joined the Education and Strategic Planning Branch in 2015, she continued serving many clients from her previous positions. In 2017, Melanie secured the release of Norman Graham, who was wrongfully convicted of a 1980 rape and murder.

As a leader in Education already, Melanie regularly trains public defenders in Kentucky and across the nation, serving on the faculty of many of the most prestigious defender training programs. She also assists in training the community as she has led DPA’s public information efforts on expungement, leading and organizing dozens of events around Kentucky. In recognition of her outstanding work for DPA and clients, Melanie was the recipient of the 2018 Professionalism and Excellence Award.

Melanie’s experiences serving clients in the Trial Division and Post-Trial Division as well as leading educational efforts in Kentucky and around the country make her the right choice to lead DPA’s training program.