Trial Division

DPA’s 33 trial offices across the Commonwealth provide representation to indigent clients in adult criminal, juvenile, contempt, and involuntary commitment cases. Kentucky defender teams improve lives by insisting clients be treated fairly while guarding all constitutional protections for each client we serve.

DPA attorneys, investigators, alternative sentencing specialists, and administrative professionals all have a vital role to play as part of the mission of DPA.

Trial Division Director

Samuel Cox became the Trial Division Director in 2019, after returning to serve as DPA’s Director of Law Operations in 2017. Prior to that, he had a successful practice as a private criminal defense attorney and expert mitigation consultant in the field of death penalty criminal defense litigation, investigation and mitigation.  Earlier, Sam was a 12-year employee of DPA as a staff attorney in Bell, Madison and Fayette Counties, before joining the Capital Trial Branch, where he performed with a high degree of skill and experience on DPA’s most complex work.  He educated public defenders on highly complex issues such as litigation of Intellectual Disability in death penalty cases. You can reach Sam Cox by email or phone at 502-782-3553. 

Assistant Trial Division Director

Jennifer Wittmeyer is the Assistant Trial Division Director. Ms. Wittmeyer graduated Cum Laude from George Mason School of Law in Arlington, Virginia and received her undergraduate degree from Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Kentucky. While living in Washington, D.C., Jennifer worked for both the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Justice.  Jennifer began her career as a public defender with the Louisville Metro Public Defender and joined DPA as a Staff Attorney in the Cynthiana Trial office in 2007.  Jennifer became the Directing Attorney in Cynthiana and worked in that position for two years before becoming the Directing Attorney in the Bullitt County trial office in 2012.   Jennifer grew up on a vegetable farm in southern Ohio but is now proud to call Louisville home and lives there with her son, Brycen, and their two dogs, Peanut and Jello.

Regional Managers

Regional managers supervise each of the individual trial offices within a region of the Commonwealth. Several of DPA Regional Managers also act as a Directing Attorney in one of the offices that they supervise. While serving as Regional Managers, they also represent clients in trial courts throughout the state. If contacting a Directing Attorney has not been successful, Regional Managers are available to address your questions or concerns.

James Rhorer is the Central Region Manager.  James is originally from Richmond, KY. He graduated from Transylvania University in 1997 with a B.A. in math. He got his J.D. from the University of Kentucky in 2000 and came to the Bowling Green office in 2002. James lives in Bowling Green with his wife Emily, who works for DPA in the appeals branch, as well as their children Sutton and Ellie.

Traci Hancock is the Eastern Regional Manager. Ms. Hancock received her BA in Psychology from Morehead State University in 1996. She received her J.D. from the University of Tennessee School of Law in 2000. She started her career with DPA in her hometown at the Pikeville Trial Office immediately after law school. She received the In Re Gault Award in 2004 from the Department of Public Advocacy for her representation of juveniles. She became the Directing Attorney of the Pikeville DPA Trial Office in 2006. She recently was named the Eastern Regional Manager in 2017, which includes her home office, the DPA Pikeville Trial Office and the DPA offices of Bell County, Harlan, Hazard, London and Prestonsburg. Traci continues to reside in her hometown of Pikeville, Kentucky, with her husband, Wayne, and their two children, Trey and Harper..

Chris Tracy is the new Bluegrass Regional Manager. Chris joined DPA in 2009, having graduated from UK Law and Butler University.  He started in the unified Lexington office on Church St., originally sharing his office with two other staff attorneys.  Subsequently, Chris became a staff attorney in the Lexington South office, before becoming the directing attorney of Lexington North in September of 2014.  Around the same time, Chris became a regular coach/instructor with the education branch, helping with Week 1 trainings, Faubush, and capital voir dire.  Chris has tried numerous cases to verdict, including two capital cases and a third murder trial with individual voir dire.  He has attended various NACDL workshops, participated in the Clarence Darrow Institute in Chicago, and continues to seek out new information to better serve clients.  Chris lives in Lexington with his wife Diana, and kids Charlie and Ruby. 

Eric Stovall is the Western Regional Manager. Mr. Stovall received his B.A. in political science from the University of Kentucky where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and with departmental honors in 1998.  He received his J.D. from the University of Kentucky School of Law in 2003. Upon graduation he was an Assistant Commonwealth and County Attorney in the 38th Judicial Circuit from 2003 to 2005.  At which time, he entered private practice until joining the Department of Public Advocacy as a Staff Attorney in the Hopkinsville Office in 2006.  In 2009 he was named the Directing Attorney of the Madisonville Trial Office and in 2011 the Western Regional Manager, both positions he still holds.  Eric resides in Greenville, Kentucky with his two children, Whitlee and Regin.

Brian Hewlett is the Northern Regional Manager. Brian Hewlett is a 1992 graduate of the Morehead State University.  He graduated from the University of Kentucky, College of Law in 1995.  After one year in private practice, he joined the Boyd County Public Defender’s Office.  He became the Boyd County Public Defender’s Office Public Advocate a few years later when his predecessor retired.  Brian joined DPA in 2006 when the Boyd County Public Defender’s Office became the regional office site for a DPA office, and he has served as its Directing Attorney since February of 2006.  He has served as faculty at DPA Litigation Training at Faubush.  In 2010, he was awarded the Department’s Gideon Award.  He is the father of a boy named Quentin who puts the light in his life.  He is also an avid music fan and occasional performer.

Shanda West-Stiles is the Southern Regional Manager for the Department of Public Advocacy. Shanda earned her law degree from the Paul M. Hebert School of Law at Louisiana State University and graduated from Western Kentucky University with a double major in psychology and government.  Shanda began her career at DPA in 1999 in the Columbia Trial Office and has represented clients in all eight counties in the office’s large service area (Adair, Casey, Clinton, Cumberland, Green, Marion, Taylor, and Washington).  She became the Directing Attorney of the Columbia Office in 2011. Shanda was the recipient of the 2017 Clarence Earl Gideon Award in recognition of her exceptional service to her clients and to the mission of public defense. Shanda and her husband live in Adair County.

Kim Green is the Capital Trials Manager. Kim Green has been appointed as Regional Manager of the Capital Trial Branch. Originally from Massachusetts, Kim began working for DPA in the Richmond Trial Office in 2010. She quickly fell in love with Kentucky and has been here ever since. She transferred to the Lexington Trial Office before transitioning into exclusively capital representation with the Capital Trials Branch East Office, ultimately serving as the CTB East Directing Attorney. Kim has been extraordinarily successful representing capital clients facing the death penalty, including three amazing results in jury trials – CW v. Tigue (Bell County, LWOP 25 – reversed on appeal); CW v. Exantus (Woodford County, – Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity); and CW. Mulazim (Fayette County – hung jury). Kim received her undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2007 before attending Harvard Law School where she obtained her JD in 2010. Kim currently resides in Lexington, KY, with two very sweet dogs and one very crazy cat.