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Department of Public Advocacy
Justice & Public Safety Cabinet 

Contact: Cara Lane Cape

Public Defenders Seek Support for Gov. Bevin’s Funding Proposal
Kentucky Public Advocate informs House budget subcommittee of dire funding needs

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 6, 2018) - Public Advocate Damon Preston appeared before the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Justice, Public Safety, and the Judiciary today to explain the needs of Kentucky public defenders in the next biennium.  He asked that the subcommittee accept and endorse the additional Department of Public Advocacy (DPA) funding in Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget.

Preston began his presentation by thanking the governor, State Budget Director John Chilton, Justice and Public Safety Secretary John Tilley, and others for their careful consideration of the department’s challenges and their support for increased defender funding during these very difficult fiscal times.  He argued that the fact that the public defender budget was increased while so many other important agencies were cut demonstrates the dire condition of defender funding and Gov. Bevin’s commitment to improving public safety.

“The Department of Public Advocacy’s existing budget is insufficient for the work that we are court-ordered and ethically, statutorily, and constitutionally required to do,” Preston told the subcommittee members. "The governor’s budget proposal provides stability to continue our work and a little bit of progress towards serving the Commonwealth and our clients as they need to be served.” 

According to the department’s Annual Litigation Report, the average trial attorney caseload in fiscal year 2017 included 459 new case assignments, a caseload volume 55 percent above national standards.  Even at this excessive level, this reported average was artificially low, Preston explained, because it was based on DPA being fully staffed and DPA has not been adequately funded to maintain full staffing.  


FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 11, 2017) - Gov. Matt Bevin and Justice Secretary John Tilley announced today that Damon

Preston has been appointed as Kentucky’s next Public Advocate, continuing his decades of steadfast work at the Department of Public Advocacy (DPA) on behalf of indigent clients. 

Preston is taking the helm after 20 years of service at key levels of the department. Since joining the DPA in 1997, he has worked as a staff attorney, director of trial offices, and manager of the department’s appeals branch. In 2007, Preston joined the department’s leadership team as director of the Trial Division. He was later appointed deputy public advocate in 2011. 

“As a career public defender, I am thrilled to be entrusted with the position of Kentucky’s Public Advocate,” Preston said. “I have been blessed to work under the strong leadership of past advocates Ed Monahan and Ernie Lewis and intend to continue their tradition of faithfully upholding the Sixth Amendment right to counsel in the Commonwealth. My goal is to improve our statewide system, which already provides excellent representation to indigent clients in the criminal courts of Kentucky.”

The Department of Public Advocacy provides legal representation to low-income clients accused of crimes, fulfilling their constitutional rights to an attorney and to a fair trial. Each year, DPA attorneys, investigators, mitigation specialists, alternative sentencing workers and administrative specialists handle more than 140,000 trial and post-trial cases statewide. These include involuntary commitments, juvenile cases, misdemeanors and felonies.

Today’s appointment fills the position of outgoing Public Advocate Ed Monahan, who dedicated more than 40 years of service to the department. Gov. Bevin selected Preston from three candidates nominated by the Public Advocacy Commission. The appointment takes effect September 16, 2017.

“Damon is a proven leader who commands with a steady hand, and he has played an instrumental role in every aspect of DPA over the past two decades,” Secretary Tilley said. “We value his data-driven approach and eye toward accountability and look forward to his continued service at the department. We also thank Ed Monahan for his unyielding service and sacrifice on behalf of DPA and its clients. He has provided a great deal of resolute leadership during tough budgetary times, and his work has impacted many lives for the better.”