First Black woman named as Connecticut’s top public defender

Jul 2, 2022, 1:17 PM | Updated: 1:42 pm

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The first Black woman has been appointed as Connecticut’s chief public defender.

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

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

Bowden-Lewis was appointed in late 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 annually.

Bowden-Lewis said she understands the importance of being the first Black woman to hold the job, 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 assistant law clerk in New Haven before joining the Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services.

Bowden-Lewis has worked in the New Haven and Waterbury courts, most recently serving as supervisor of the public defender’s office for the Waterbury Judicial District.

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First Black woman named as Connecticut’s top public defender