Deja Vishny has been awarded the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Champion of Justice Award during NACDL’s Midwinter Meeting in New Orleans.
Champion of Justice Awards are bestowed on those individuals who – through legislative, journalistic, philanthropic or humanitarian pursuits – have preserved or defended the constitutional rights of American citizens and have endeavored to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime.
Vishny is a criminal defense attorney and trial lawyer based in Milwaukee who specializes in homicide and false confession cases, as well as suppression and trial skills. Vishny is also a trainer and lecturer for NGOs, criminal defense, public defense and state bar organizations, having given lectures on defending confession cases, suppression and various aspects of trial practice in over 40 states and India.
She serves as faculty of the National Criminal Defense College, is currently on its board and previously served on the boards of the NACDL and the Wisconsin State Bar Criminal Law Section. Before entering private practice in 2019, she was a public defender in Wisconsin for 38 years, serving as the state’s Homicide Practice Coordinator and Deputy Training Director.
Vishny was awarded two Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers lifetime achievement awards: one for excellence and service to the criminal defense bar and another for the defense of the indigent accused; as well as multiple awards for acquittals in homicide cases.
In 2012, Vishny received the Wisconsin Law Journal’s Women in the Law award. She was an adjunct professor on trial advocacy at Marquette University Law School. Vishny is also the author of Suppressing Criminal Evidence, now in its 4th edition, and recently joined the NACDL Public Defense team.
“I am honored to receive this award,” Vishny said in a statement. “There is an old saying: ‘Whoever saves a life, saves the entire world.’ Day in and day out, we criminal defense lawyers save lives. I became involved with NACDL in the mid-1990s, and the organization has moved in a great direction since that time. Women and BIPOC lawyers are now in leadership positions.
“NACDL has taken on the fight against mass incarceration, the trial penalty and racism in the criminal legal system,” she added. “The focus on giving assistance to public defenders who work tirelessly for lower pay and carry higher caseload is amazing and I’m proud to have been able to contribute in some small way to what NACDL does.”