It’s as familiar as that sound effect on “Law & Order.”

“You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you.”

But is that always true in New Orleans? And if so, will that person have more than a few minutes to talk with you?

We’ll talk about the harsh realities of indigent defense with our October Newsmaker, Derwyn Bunton, Chief District Defender for Orleans Parish. He’s the guy who runs the office for public defenders, and the one whose Kickstarter campaign was part of a scathing John Oliver piece.

Bunton will be interviewed by Charles Maldonado, The Lens’ government and politics reporter. The office’s always-short budget will be one of many topics they’ll cover.   Join us Oct. 15 at 8 a.m. to learn more and why this is an issue important for the entire community, not just those who can’t afford an attorney.

The involvement of civically engaged community members like you is crucial to the future of our city and our region. We encourage your questions. If you’d like to pose a question in advance, please email Anne Mueller by Oct. 15.

To catch up on Bunton in the news, take a look at these recent stories (and watch the John Oliver diatribe linked above.)

Indefensible: The Story Of New Orleans’ Public Defenders

Orleans public defender announces austerity plan that may include furloughs, layoffs

I’m a public defender. It’s impossible for me to do a good job representing my clients.

New Orleans judge calls hearing to discuss public defender funding

Below is a recording of the event.

Event details

Date: Thursday, Oct. 15

Time: 8 to 9 a.m. Doors open at 7:30 a.m.

RSVP: Anne Mueller,

Location: Basin St. Station, 4th floor, 501 Basin St. at St. Louis Street

Parking: Complimentary parking is available with a dashboard parking pass that is distributed by a Basin St. Station staff member who will be standing in front of the building the morning of the breakfast. This map shows the location of the parking lot and access points.


Special thanks to our sponsors: Baptist Community Ministries, the Ella West Freeman Foundation and Basin St. Station.



Breakfast with the Newsmakers is a monthly business-social event that aims to engage The Lens’ audience with one another and with the people making news around New Orleans. Newsmakers events are open to the public. They are free to Lens members, with a $10 suggested donation for non-members.