Connecticut’s new top public defender, 1st black woman on the job | National

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — For the first time, a black woman has been named Connecticut’s chief public defender.

TaShun Bowden-Lewis, who officially began her job Friday overseeing the Division of Public Defense Services, said she hopes to provide minority clients with a greater sense of confidence in the state’s criminal justice system.

“I want our clients and our families to understand that we are in the trenches with them. We support them,” she told the Hartford Courant.

Bowden-Lewis was appointed at the end of May by the Public Defender Services Commission. The division represents clients in more than 100,000 criminal, child protection, delinquency defense and family support cases each year.

Bowden-Lewis said she understands the importance of being the first black woman to hold the position, noting that “representation matters” given the racial makeup of the division’s clients.

Bowden-Lewis grew up in Norwalk and earned her law degree from Quinnipiac University. She began her career working as a temporary legal assistant in New Haven before joining the Connecticut Division of Public Defense Services.

Bowden-Lewis has worked in the courts of New Haven and Waterbury, most recently as supervisor of the Office of the Public Defender for the Judicial District of Waterbury.

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