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Public Defender

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About the Aurora Public Defender

In 1989, the Aurora Public Defender's Office was established by City Council with Tracey Dawson as the first Chief Public Defender and Scott Baraway and Rebecca Gleason as the first two Deputy Public Defenders. After the new Municipal Court was opened to the public in January of 1990, the Public Defender's office officially began serving indigent clients in the city of Aurora, Colorado.

Since the opening in 1989 to present day, indigent representation has been in the hands of eight Chief Public Defenders with two out of the eight acting as one in an interim arrangement. The Chief Public Defender lineage begins with Tracey Dawson and continues on to Kristopher Colley, Thomas Farrow, Laurie Cole, Jose Martinez, Tasha Steward and Rene Cooper acting as one, and presently Douglas Wilson. The Aurora Public Defender is now home to 10 attorneys and 1.5 grant funded attorney positions who are dedicated to representing indigent clients and providing substantial legal counsel.

Public Defender Commission 

To ensure quality legal counsel and representation, the Public Defender Commission was established in May 1992. The Public Defender's Office is formerly governed by the Public Defender Commission, which ensures that indigent clients are represented in accordance to its strict guidelines.

A.M.C. Section 50-166

"The municipal public defender commission through its ability to appoint and discharge the public defender and his or her assistant, shall ensure that indigent clients are represented independently of any political consideration or private interests, provide legal services to indigent persons accused of violation of municipal ordinances that are commensurate with those available to non indigents, and conduct the office in accordance with the Colorado Code of Professional Standards relating to the administration of criminal justice, the defense function."

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Elizabeth D. Cadiz
Chief Public Defender

Elizabeth began her career as a criminal defense attorney in 2008 in Cincinnati, Ohio, after graduating from Salmon P. Chase College of Law in Northern Kentucky University. As a private criminal defense attorney and public defender, she has been a dedicated litigator fighting for the most vulnerable members of our society. She is passionate about ensuring that indigent clients are afforded the highest level of representation as has been promised by the State and Federal Constitutions. Her commitment to protecting the Bill of Rights has not wavered since she joined the office as a Deputy Public Defender in 2012. Since that time, she has tried over 100 jury trials, litigated countless motions and several appeals; many of which resulted in victories for her clients. In 2017, she became Chief Deputy and in 2023 was named Chief Public Defender. She believes that the work of a Public Defender is the most critical of all parties involved in the Court system because the individuals without financial means are most often the ones unjustly punished. As a Public Defender she is devoted to giving them the voice and the tools that they need to reach the best possible outcome. Elizabeth, who is married with two children, has dedicated her professional career to not only representing poor people accused of crimes, but strives to ensure that there is a fair administration of justice in the city of Aurora.

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Tasha A. Steward
Chief Deputy Public Defender

When I was 15 I worked for tips as a bagger at a grocery store. I had a friend that also worked there. She was being abused in many ways at home, but I didn’t know that. Next to the grocery store, there was a retail store that housed a branch of the military bank. I had a savings account there to save my tips. One day, my friend asked me to cash a check for $75 for her. She said she did not have her ID. I went over and cashed the check. That check had been stolen by my friend so that she could buy a bus ticket to safer family. I was contacted by the military police asking about the check (this is when I found out it was stolen). I was asked to come down with my parent and talk about the check. I did. I explained what happened and felt sad that my friend didn’t just ask me or my family for the money. The officer I spoke to began to show up at my job as a bagger. He would pull me aside and tell me that he wanted to talk to me again. He needed my parent there. He contacted my dad while he was doing his military duties to talk about this check. He came to my high school. He didn’t say anything, but would just be there to show his face. I ended up talking to this guy with my dad four times. Each time, I explained what happened and answered all questions. At the last meeting, I told the officer that it seemed like he wanted me to lie because he asked the same questions over and over again and he was actively trying to intimidate me (I didn’t use those words because I was a young teen). That was the last time I saw the cop. It made me hate to see cops coming. What makes this more heartbreaking is that my dad paid that check and all associated fees so that the police would leave me alone. I didn’t find that out until years later. My dad felt that I was so affected by these interactions with the police that he paid to make them go away. That’s why I became a public defender. 

Jordan Askew
Chief Deputy Public Defender

Contact Information

14999 E. Alameda Parkway, Aurora, CO 80012

[email protected]


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