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News in DPA

Ray Ibarra Named Education Supervisor

The DPA Education & Strategic Planning Branch is thrilled to announce Ray Ibarra as the newest addition to the education team. Ray will serve as the Education Branch Supervisor, a newly created position within the Education & Strategic Planning Branch. Ray has been active in DPA education since 2015 and is one of the agency experts on bail and pretrial release litigation. He is a faculty member of the DPA Public Defender College where he assists with Circuit Court training, District Court training, Litigation Persuasion Institute and Investigation Institute. Ray is also a founding member of the DPA mentorship program where he helped guide the goals and structure of the program. 

Ray is a Gideon’s Promise alumnus and continues to assist Gideon’s Promise as a faculty member in their newly created structured mentorship program. Prior to joining the DPA Education Branch, Ray was the Directing Attorney of the Cynthiana Trial Office. He has also worked in the Covington and Newport Trial Offices. Prior to coming to Kentucky as an Equal Justice Works Public Defender Corps Fellow specializing in Pre-Trial Release Litigation, Ray graduated from Georgetown Law in Washington, DC in 2009. He has also worked at public defender offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara County, California, and Montgomery County, Maryland. Ray and his wife Andrea Kendall—who is also a DPA attorney in the Capital Trials Branch— are proud foster parents and have a combined total of eighteen years and seven household moves in the service of public defense reform.


Sam Potter Named New Post-Conviction Branch Manager

On September 24, the Department of Public Advocacy announced that Sam Potter has been named as the new Post-Conviction Branch Manager.  

Sam graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a B.A. in economics and received his J.D. from Brandeis Law School at the University of Louisville in 2003.  He joined DPA in 2003 as a staff attorney in the Appeals Branch.  As an Appeals attorney, Sam has been responsible for a number of important published appellate victories, including Grady v. Commonwealth, 325 S.W.3d 333 (Ky. 2010)(holding that Sam’s client had not adequately waived counsel and had been denied his right to testify at his suppression hearing); Commonwealth v. Nash, 338 S.W.3d 264 (Ky. 2011)(finding that the sex offender registry did not apply to an offender who was released from custody prior to the enactment of the registry statute);  Commonwealth v. Tapp, 497 S.W.3d 239 (Ky. 2016)(reversing a probation revocation because the trial court failed to extend probation and thus lost jurisdiction), and many more.  Through this period Sam has developed a reputation as an excellent advocate, both orally and in writing, and as an effective counselor for clients who have had challenges in relationships with other attorneys. 
In 2011, Sam took on additional responsibility, becoming a Supervisor in the Appeals Branch.  There, too, Sam has excelled, developing the attorneys in his unit to be some of the most effective appellate advocates in Kentucky.
DPA is proud to have a proven leader and advocate like Sam leading the Post-Conviction Branch.


Melanie Foote Named New DPA Education Manager

The Department of Public Advocay 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.