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Program a source of pride for Dorman

Robin E. Dorman – State Public Defenders Office

Photo by Kevin Harnack

Photo by Kevin Harnack

The criminal justice system isn’t perfect, but attorney Robin E. Dorman is trying to get it a little closer.

For more than three decades, Dorman has worked as an attorney with the State Public Defender’s Office, often taking on some of the toughest assignments, including juvenile homicide cases.

After spending the majority of her career working in the Waukesha office of the SPD, Dorman transferred to the Milwaukee Trial Office in 2003 and joined in a push to develop diversion programs for offenders.

The most prominent was the 2009 launch of a Drug Treatment Court in Milwaukee County.

“When we looked at the big picture of the criminal justice system, business as usual was just not working,” she said.

Dorman helped spearhead the project, which provides an alternative to incarceration and diverts cases that would otherwise end up in court.

Completion of the intensive 18-month program gives offenders the ability to avoid jail and, ideally, kick an addiction.

Dorman said she takes pride in knowing that the program is changing lives.

“For years, it used to be you do everything you can to stop the system from eating your clients up,” she said.

“Watching clients succeed and transform is the best part of this.”

In addition to representing clients in the program, Dorman also serves as a member of the planning and policy team.

Beyond her work with clients in the treatment court, Dorman has been an active advocate for changing the law to return 17-year-olds back to the juvenile system.

She has extensive experience representing clients in juvenile waiver proceedings, in which a minor is charged in adult court.

Despite the challenges, Dorman said she still has the same vigor for the job as when she joined the SPD 31 years ago and what keeps things interesting is that each day is different.

“Every day I come to the office, something unexpected happens that sets me off on a new tangent and that is what makes the job so great after all these years,” she said.

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