Established in 1965, the Salt Lake Legal Defender Association is a nonprofit law firm organized to provide the highest quality representation to eligible individuals accused of crimes in Salt Lake County. Our office of dedicated lawyers, social service professionals, mitigation specialists, legal assistants, paralegals, and investigators work hard to protect the rights of our clients.


We advocate without compromise, zealously working to ensure we provide our clients with effective, creative, and compassionate legal assistance. Our office litigates cases ranging from misdemeanors to death penalty cases; however, we never forget that each case is important to our clients, their loved ones, and our community. Whether it’s a trial before their peers, admission into a specialty court, or an advantageous plea bargain, our attorneys always try to get our clients the best possible outcome. Our attorneys are aided by our experienced investigative team, enabling us to present a strong defense by locating and interviewing witnesses and hunting down exculpatory evidence.


Our social service professionals and mitigation specialists can provide judges, juries, and prosecutors with background information, assessments, and treatment plans that can reduce recidivism, reintegrate our clients into the community, help individuals onto the path of recovery and offer better alternatives to incarceration. In addition to helping our clients, our work and coordination with community treatment providers saves taxpayers money. In 2015, the cost of incarcerating one inmate at the Utah State Prison for one year is $29,349; each client who receives the treatment necessary to change their lives also saves our community money, makes our city safer, and rebuilds families.
Our work ensures that everyone in Salt Lake County receives the same protections guaranteed by the constitution. When we challenge evidence, expose untruths, and demand that the police conduct thorough and fair investigations, we protect everyone from governmental overreach. Our advocacy makes the criminal justice system a fairer process for everyone.


Our staff treats clients, coworkers, and community partners with compassion, kindness, and respect.


Current Board

D. Gilbert Athay

Vice Chair  
Ronald Coleman

Past Chairs 
George W. Latimer
Robert Van Sciver
Jimi Mitsunaga

Philip V. Bernal
David M. Bown
Gary K. Dalton
Dennis C. Ferguson
Maria J. Garciaz
Howard R. Lemke
Theresa Martinez
Mark R. Moffat
Carissa Hessick


Named after Jimi Mitsunaga, the award is given annually for Achievement, Dedication, and Loyalty to Attorneys and Support Staff who have demonstrated these standards of excellence and a commitment to LDA’s mission of providing excellent legal representation

2000    Lynn R. Brown

2001    Lisa J. Remal

2002    Joann Schneider

2003    Kay Lamoreaux

2004    Paul Espinoza

2005    Karen J. Stam

2006    Dennis Couch

2007    F. John Hill

2008    Diane Grambow

2009    Joan C. Watt

2010    Deborah Kreeck Mendez

2011    Patrick Corum & Heather Brereton

2012    Ralph Dellapiana

2013    Ray Shuey & Kristina Swickard

2014    Patrick Anderson & Lisa Freebairn

2015    Teresa Welch & Mary Chipian

2016    Wojciech Nitecki & Susan Kosanovong

2017     Debra M. Nelson & Mark Augustine

2018     Michael Peterson & Vicki Loader

2019     Kellie Wilcox & Michael Sikora