Jim Neuhard, director of the State Appellate Defender Office (SADO), has retired. Dawn Van Hoek, Chief Deputy, has been appointed as acting director. Under his watch, in 2009 SADO received the ABA/NLADA Foltz award as the outstanding defender office in the United States.
In awarding him its Champion of Justice Award in 2002, the State Bar said "Neuhard has made a significant and lasting contribution to the nation by furthering understanding and highlighting the importance of adequate funding and the necessary political independence of the indigent defense system. He is the person that many public defender leaders turn to for answers to the issues that affect our system of justice. Neuhard is often praised for qualities like integrity, fairness, excellence and dedication to the principles and ideals of democracy."
Nationally, Neuhard participated in drafting most of the national standards on indigent defense and is the principle author of the ABA’s “Ten Principles of a Public Defense System” which have been the cornerstone of the State Bar's lobbying efforts to improve Michigan's public defense system. Neuhard has served as a member of the US Department of Justice's Advisory Committee for Indigent Defense and the Presidential Advisory Committee on the future of Technology in the Justice System and as an advisor to the US Department of Justice's Compendium of National and State Criminal Defense Standards. Most recently, Neuhard has served on State Bar's Judicial Crossroads Task Force Technology Committee, addressing how technology can be harnessed to help Michigan's courts adapt and thrive in a changing economy.
In addition to the State Bar's Champion of Justice Award, Neuhard has been recognized as as Man of the Year by the National Lawyers Guild; as a Warrior of Justice by the Legal Aid and Defender Association; and as recipient of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association’s Reginald Heber Smith Award. In 2009, he was honored as a Leader in the Law and named 2009 Michigan Lawyer of the Year by Michigan Lawyer's Weekly.