WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) mourns the loss of Charles J. Ogletree Jr., legendary Harvard Law professor, civil rights scholar and former public defender. His included eight years as a public defender at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS).
“Charles Ogletree deeply impacted my career and served as one of my north stars that inspired me and reminded me to maintain hope for equity and justice despite the challenges,” said April Frazier Camara, NLADA president and CEO. “I am forever indebted to him for his immeasurable contributions to our community, because he embodied the rich legacy that I was trained in at the D.C. Public Defender Service.”
As an equal justice warrior, Ogletree remained involved in the public defense community for the entirety of his career. He was active with the NLADA community, serving on the organization’s board for several years. He will always be remembered for his unwavering commitment and love for clients.
“When I served on the NLADA board with ‘Tree,’ he shared with me that all his hard work and victories in his cases were for me and other clients. His fight for justice ran deep and was unwavering, and his humility and compassion would brighten any room that he would enter,” said Rosita Stanley, NLADA Community Advocate board member.
“As amazing as it was to watch Tree in action in the courtroom, what was equally amazing was to watch Tree with his clients and his client’s family – his respect, support and friendship with them was so genuine. It was clear that his compassion for people fueled his extraordinary social justice leadership,” said Jo-Ann Wallace, president, CEO and board chairperson of NLADA Mutual Insurance Co., RRG. “And he was always there for the equal justice community.”
Ogletree inspired the creation of the Black Public Defender Association, a section of NLADA. As a civil rights scholar, Ogletree deeply understood the interconnectedness of race, poverty and the criminal legal system. He trained and mentored countless public defender leaders such as Jo-Ann Wallace, Avis Buchanan, former executive director of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, and Heather Pinckney, current director of Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia and others.
The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA), founded in 1911, is America’s oldest and largest nonprofit association devoted to excellence in the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel.