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SPD Director Chiarkas to retire

After 22 years as head of the Wisconsin State Public Defender Office, attorney Nicholas L. Chiarkas is stepping down in January.

He was tapped to lead the agency on Sept. 1, 1988 and his tenure marks the longest as Chief State Public Defender, not only in Wisconsin, but in the nation.

Public Defender Board chairman Daniel M. Berkos said the board is in process of developing a selection process for Chiarkas’ replacement, which will include a national search for qualified candidates.

According to a release, the recruitment process is scheduled to begin in the fall.

During his career, Chiarkas founded Justice Without Borders and has helped establish Public Defender programs in Israel, Gaza and Japan and is currently assisting Armenia.

Within the last year, he successfully lobbied the legislature for updated eligibility standards for people to quality for a State Public Defender and continues to champion for an increase in the private bar compensation rate paid to attorneys who are assigned cases.

“I am in awe of the many talented men and women who have dedicated themselves to the Wisconsin state public defender agency, in spite of the long hours and criticism,” he said in a statement.

Chiarkas will be featured in the Wisconsin Law Journal’s “Asked & Answered” profile in the August 2 edition.

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