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Trial Division


DPA's 33 trial offices across the Commonwealth provide representation to indigent clients in adult criminal, juvenile, civil 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. The Division is led by the Trial Division Director, Samuel Cox . 


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Samuel Cox is the Trial Division Director at the Department of Public Advocacy. Sam returned to the DPA as the Director of Law Operations in 2017. Sam most recently 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.  Prior to private practice, 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.  As such, he educated public defenders on highly complex issues such as litigation of Intellectual Disability in death penalty cases. 


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. 

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Jennifer Wittmeyer is the Central Regional Manager and Conflict Branch Manager. 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.

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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..

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Rodney Barnes in the Bluegrass Regional Manager. Mr. Barnes  a career Public Defender having spent over 20 years representing indigent people accused of crime in the Commonwealth of Kentucky at the trial level. Rodney first spent time in juvenile courts as a public and status offender before dropping out of high school to enlist in the United States Navy. He earned his GED while aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal CV-59 while serving four years active duty. He then received his BA in Psychology and his JD at the University of Louisville. Rodney began his career as a Louisville Public Defender in 1994 and joined the Department of Public Advocacy Frankfort Trial Office in 1999. He became that office’s Directing Attorney in 1999 and continued in that role for over ten years, when he was appointed as the Managing Attorney for the DPA Northern Region, which includes his home office of the Frankfort Trial Office and DPA Trial Offices in Ashland, Burlington, Covington, LaGrange, Lexington, Maysville, and Newport. Rodney continues to represent people charged with capital and other serious offenses in Kentucky courts. This includes James “Anthony” Gray; his conviction for two counts of murder was vacated and remanded for a new trial by the Kentucky Supreme Court after throwing out his coerced, false confession.​

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 Eric Stovall is the Western Regional ManagerMr. 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.


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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 as 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.

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 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.
Directing Attorneys serve as managers of their individual offices. These offices cover one or more counties within the Commonwealth. Across the Commonwealth, all Directing Attorneys maintain a caseload directly representing clients within the community served​. If you have an issue or question regarding an individual office and the attorney assigned to your case is not available, the Directing Attorney is happy to assist. 
Find your local Directing Attorney, how to locate their office, email address, and phone number by going to the FIND MY LAWYER page.