Utah State Indigent Defense Commission Announces the Hiring of an Executive Director

The Utah Indigent Defense Commission announces that Joanna E. Landau has been hired as its Executive Director.

Ms. Landau is highly qualified, and brings her experience as a public defender with the Salt Lake Legal Defenders Association, where she worked for several years representing indigent criminal defendants on appeal to the Utah Supreme Court and Utah Court of Appeals. She also assisted many trial court judges while working as an attorney in the Third District Court. Ms. Landau received a Juris Doctorate from the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah, and a Bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College. Originally from Colorado, Ms. Landau has lived in Utah for more than a decade. 

Pursuant to legislation sponsored by Utah State Senator Todd Weiler and passed in the 2016 General Session, Ms. Landau will work with the Commission and local governments to assist the state in meeting its obligations to provide assistance of counsel to indigent defendants, consistent with the state and federal Constitutions and the Utah Code. To fulfill that obligation, the legislation tasks the Commission with many duties, including the development of guiding principles to assess and oversee indigent criminal defense services in the state, and using legislatively-appropriated funds to make grants to local governments to assist them in providing constitutional indigent defense services.

Creation of the Commission was recommended after a multi-year study of indigent defense services in Utah, conducted by a Task Force of prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, local government representatives and legislators. The 11 voting members of the Commission were appointed by Governor Herbert and confirmed by the Senate over the summer. With Ms. Landau on board, the Commission can begin its work.