2014 – Michael J. Pelletier

Pelletier, MikeMichael J. Pelletier is described by colleagues as a “zealous advocate,” “a skilled appellate attorney of unimpeachable ethics” and a “highly regarded leader in the criminal defense bar.” In his 38 years at the Office of the State Appellate Defender (OSAD), Michael has worked tirelessly to ensure that every OSAD client receives the high-quality representation that they deserve.

Michael has spent his entire career advocating on behalf of indigent defendants. After graduating from The John Marshall Law School in 1976, Michael began representing indigent clients as an Assistant Appellate Defender, becoming the First District Deputy Defender in 1987. In 2008, Michael was named the State Appellate Defender, a role in which he directs the work of more than 170 attorneys and 60 support staff who handle approximately 4,800 cases throughout Illinois’ five appellate districts.

Michael is widely recognized as a skilled advocate, writer and legal analyst. He is also recognized as a strong, thoughtful and capable leader, addressing head-on the many challenges involved in leading his agency. He has worked tirelessly to ensure that the attorneys in his office have the time and resources needed to competently handle their cases. Michael also has implemented policies to support the long-term health of the agency, such as instituting several family-friendly employment practices to help the agency retain its many exceptional lawyers.

As one of his nominators noted, “although the legal representation of indigent criminal defendants is often a thankless undertaking, Michael J. Pelletier has always discharged the function with the highest level of skill and dedication.” Michael’s time at the OSAD reflects his commitment to justice for every indigent appellant and his belief that every person deserves the best possible presentation of their case on appeal. His hard work and dedication to his clients, his staff, and to the law have made it possible for OSAD’s clients and staff to receive the highest possible level of respect, fair treatment and advocacy.