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"I enjoy being an integral part of the legal community. I see the judges and prosecutors more than most attorneys in the jurisdiction. It is nice to see public defenders not only well liked, but highly respected because of quality representation."
--public defender

Training Division

Training is a top priority for MSPD. We know that none of us walks into this profession prepared to defend the freedom and life of another person.

It is the mission of our Training Division to ensure that all MSPD employees have myriad hands-on training opportunities, so they attain the knowledge and skill to provide quality representation to our clients. The Public Defender System covers all costs associated with attending any approved training programs.

Toward that end, we offer our employees a variety of in-house training programs each year as well as the opportunity to attend national training programs every two to three years.

Lawyer Training

Among our in-house training programs for attorneys is our New Defender Workshops, where new public defenders get a chance to perfect the day-to-day practice of criminal defense. In this program, defenders will

  • follow the path and preparation of a case from arrest through post-conviction
  • discuss client counseling and motion practice issues
  • learn about case investigation
  • practice conducting a deposition with guidance from experienced defenders
  • become familiar with the many sentencing alternatives and advocacy strategies available to them and their clients

To help our defenders become the best litigators they can be within the courtroom, we also conduct a number of cutting-edge trial skills courses: beginning, intermediate, advanced, and capital. Here defenders prepare and practice all aspects of a full criminal trial under the tutelage and guidance of experienced MSPD attorneys and top-quality criminal defense attorneys from around the country. MSPD has acquired a national reputation for the quality of its trial advocacy training, and we are proud to continue in that tradition.

MSPD also offers a variety of stand-alone, ever-changing programs on appellate, post-conviction, and death penalty practice, juvenile defense work, sentencing advocacy, ethics, DNA, forensic pathology, mitigation, forensic psychology, and other issues we often confront in our cases and with our clients.

On the national training front, MSPD regularly sends attorneys to participate in most, if not all, of the nationally-recognized programs available in the field of criminal defense. We have also long been the source of faculty for those national programs. Our defenders have served as faculty for

  • the National Legal Aid & Defender Association
  • the National College for Criminal Defense
  • the Wyoming Trial Advocacy Institute
  • the Institute for Criminal Defense Advocacy in San Diego
  • Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College
  • the Death Penalty College in Santa Clara
  • the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • training events sponsored by individual public defender organizations in
    Chicago, New York City, Kentucky, Kansas, New Mexico, Indiana, and
    around the country.

We have outstanding attorneys at MSPD. We are proud of our people and happy to share their expertise with others working for the same cause in other states. Our employees invariably bring back new ideas and contacts from their travels and we all benefit from the exchange. A number of our attorneys also teach as adjunct professors at Missouri's law schools and undergraduate institutions, in further testament to the quality of the skills they bring to our clients.

Non-Lawyer Training

MSPD also offers in-house and national training opportunities to its investigators and paralegal staff, covering such pertinent topics as Locating and Interviewing Witnesses, Case Analysis, Crime Scene Investigation, Service of Process, Investigating Experts and Laboratories, Report Writing, Forensics, Safety in the Field, Ethics, and more.

Computer Training

MSPD offers a wide variety of computer training options, both classroom and one-on-one, to all of its employees, regardless of job classification or seniority. Classes on Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Visio, along with classes on Digital Media and Laptop computers are offered every month and are open to any employee who wishes to sign up for them, free of charge.

Contact Information

Melinda K. Pendergraph
Training Director
Office of State Public Defender
Woodrail Centre
1000 West Nifong
Building 7, Suite 100
Columbia, Missouri 65203
(573) 777-9977, ext. 212
(573) 77-9976 (fax)


1010 Market Street
Suite 1100
St. Louis, MO 63101
Phone: 573-340-7662 ext 273
Fax: 314-340-7666