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Fahley strives to keep families out of juvenile-justice system

By: Jimmy Nesbitt//September 16, 2020//

Fahley strives to keep families out of juvenile-justice system

By: Jimmy Nesbitt//September 16, 2020//

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Alaina Fahley - Wisconsin State Public Defender
Alaina Fahley – Wisconsin State Public Defender

After graduating from Marquette University Law School in 2013, Alaina Fahley returned to her hometown of Appleton to work for the State Public Defender’s Office.

Since that time, she’s made a name for herself through dedication to her job as an assistant state public defender, hard work and skill. Fahley has represented clients in a variety of cases, from misdemeanors and mental commitments to homicides.

“But Alaina definitely has a soft spot for juvenile and parent clients,” said Christine Heywood, assistant state public defender. “She uses her litigation skills and her compassion to fiercely fight for her clients in and out of the courtroom.”

Fahley said that she enjoys trying to keep families together and prevent children from falling into the juvenile-justice system.

“I like working along with my clients to find ways to help them advocate for themselves and improve their lives,” she said. “I like the concept of being the person who can help my client to tell their story to those in power, to allow their story to be told in their words, sometimes for the first time in their lives.”

Fahley was elected to the State Bar’s Children and Law Section Board in 2019 and, after that, advocated for an official policy from the Board of Governors that discourages against the indiscriminate shackling of juveniles throughout Wisconsin. Her proposal was passed unanimously.

Being a public defender is not for the faint of heart, Fahley said.

“My clients often have been written off by others in their lives and their system, and it can be hard to listen to the trauma day in and day out,” she said. “Sometimes, no matter how hard you work, at the end of the day a child ends up in juvenile prison, or a family is separated.”


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