Concerts for Indigent Defense 2017

MARCH 18, 2017 5PM CST


On March 18, 1963, the United States Supreme Court in Gideon v. Wainwright declared that everyone accused of a crime has a constitutional right to legal representation. Yet to this day, public defense systems across the country fail to provide the adequate representation required. As a result, both people and justice suffer.

Host Sponsored Concerts in your City

Concerts for Indigent Defense show solidarity across music communities nationwide, in support of this badly neglected Constitutional right to counsel. Concerts for Indigent Defense are not fundraisers. They proceed like any other gig, with no money flowing any differently. Musicians contract with the club, receive regular pay, etc. Musicians without scheduled gigs that night are encouraged to participate in other ways: by sitting in with friends, doing a smaller thing locally, releasing a video or song… whatever works.

about us

Concerts for Indigent Defense is a declaration by musicians – on the anniversary of the decision in Gideon v. Wainwright – that the Constitutional right to counsel must be respected. Concerts for Indigent Defense strongly publicizes these shows through a website and social & traditional media nationwide, to educate the public about the issue and invite them to the shows.

Concerts for Indigent Defense is musicians and their communities standing together in support of the Constitutional right of all Americans to be represented by a lawyer when accused of a crime – even if one is too poor to hire one. Concerts for Indigent Defense are not fundraisers; they are awareness-raisers, about a cherished Constitutional right that is badly neglected every day across America.

New Orleans will kick off this annual effort on Saturday, March 18, 2017, to celebrate the 54th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, which established the fundamental constitutional right to counsel. This year’s featured Concert for Indigent Defense will be simulcast across the country on at 5p.m. central time.

Musicians, national legal organizations, and a range of supporters have already pledged their support for the nationwide effort, which will be presented in 2018 as a follow-up to Concerts for Indigent Defense: New Orleans.

Why New Orleans?
New Orleans has historically had the highest incarceration rate of any city in America; New Orleans has more poverty than almost any other city in America; and New Orleans’ failure to respect this Constitutional right is as egregious as anywhere else in America. When one also considers New Orleans’ music community, culture and history, it was natural for Concerts for Indigent Defense to start here….

Concerts for Indigent Defense unites all us in respect for the Constitution. It welcomes us all to come together, to call for – and actually create – respect for this constitutional right. Because if the criminal process starts with disrespect for the Constitution, what can we say about criminal justice in America?

We welcome everyone who’d like to be a part of this effort, this year and beyond. Just drop me a line at

Team and Contributors

Stephen Saloom

Stephen Saloom

Concerts for Indigent Defense


Thank you to those who enabled Concerts for Indigent Defense to become a reality…

Good ideas are a dime a dozen. Making something happen is another story altogether. Hundreds of people over the years have supported the concept, effort, and reality of Concerts for Indigent Defense. That is what enabled Concerts for Indigent Defense to become a reality in New Orleans for 2017, to launch the same nationwide in years to come.

When it comes to the people involved, Concerts for Indigent Defense New Orleans simply would not have happened if not for John Thompson and John Moore, and our spotlight organization for 2017, Orleans Public Defenders.

There are also a handful of people who recently came together to us (otherwise a budget-less effort) to build this initial website for Concerts for Indigent Defense for our New Orleans rollout and nationwide simulcast. For that and their other thoughtful support, we thank Suzy Snow and Cameron Healy, Susan and Kenneth Saloom, Caleb Caldwell, Adam Kahan, Cheryl and Louis Saloom, Beth and William Keyt, Christine Boris, and Richard Dieter.

I also want to extend a million thanks to the patient souls who brainstormed, explored, developed, critiqued, listened, and otherwise played a part in what is now the growing reality that is Concerts for Indigent Defense. This includes the many who supported Concerts for Indigent Defense through the initial national Kickstarter campaign (which didn’t reach the lofty national goal, and yet enabled this initial presentation in New Orleans). In addition to those mentioned above, this includes: Heather Hall, Sally-Ann Hard, A.J. Benson, Ana Yanez-Correia, Lindsey Hortenstine, Dave Maloney, Jamie Diaferia, Brandon Dudley, Scott Ehlers, Haywood Fennell, Rebecca Brown, David Carroll, Dr. John, Deena Maerowitz, Ruby Saloom, Jason Flom, Barry Scheck, Ezra Sherman, Seandra Sims, Tariq Trotter, Kathy Hart, Kirah Haubrich, Christophe Szapary, John Burkhart, Steve Lohman, Michael Kohn, Ethan Ellestad, Ashlye Keaton, Nic Hard, Anne Genberg, Anthony Benedetti, Renate Lunn, Jane Katcher, Rob and Trish Lemley, Alex Perkins, Brian Valzania, Lisa D’Onofrio, Katherine Katcher, Meredith and Mike Ward, Holly Heslop, Charlie Christopher, Stephen Milliken, William B. Oberly, Bill and Michelle Penkava, Dan and Michelle Briody, Maria Swaby, Andrea and Brian Keilty, Katie MacDonald, Adam Burke, David Lombino, Lonnie Fogg, Bic Green, Roni Zimmer, Barbara Mignogna Korus, Max and Melissa Hart, Michael Klinger, Seth Maerowitz, Ann-Isabel Friedman, Joanne and Charlie Smart, Charlie Smart Jr., Paul Bieber, Alex Walker, Scott Matson, Rosaline Cohen Benno, Jim Mosely, Kelly Doyle, Thomas Ullmann, Pam Robbins, Karen Murtagh, Ed Wassermann, Matt Morriss, Gabriel Oberfield, Laura Gelfman, Keith Al Findley, Simon Cole, Liz Barnett, Betsy Carnie, Kate MacKinney, Blair Maerowitz, Rosie McMahan, Andrew Berman, Celeste Fitzgerald, Paul Saloom, Madeline Cohen, Rory Fleming, Danny Goldberg, Sabrina Learman, Kevin Shea, Bonerama, Patrick Delahanty, Brian Leininger, Jim Keyt, John Charles Meyer, Dolly Patterson, Chris Scarpatti, Jennifer Roth, Peter Miller, Abraham J. Bonowitz, Maddy deLone, Jeffrey Earls, Ana and Dar Patel, Amos Prahl, Sarah Chu, Jeffrey Busch, Donna Pereira, Shari Silberstein, Geoffrey and Martha Morris, David Baker, Sonja Tonnesen, Alexander Bunin, Kyle O’Dowd, Angelyn Frazer, Kara Gelinas, Todd Alexander, Sophie Chernin, Cammie Bertram, Eric Lotke, Alison Minor, Jon Mosher, Fadwa Najamy, Karen Amendola, George Steimel, Rick Tessier, Denny LeBouf, Andrew Williams, and the many, many musicians along the way who thought it was a good idea – and to whom we’ll be coming back next year now that we’ve launched!

Last but not least, we want to thank the following organizations that have worked in support of Concerts for Indigent Defense: New Orleans – RAE, WonderLand PSNO, OPD, MACCNO, ELLA, and National Association for Public Defense.

Thank you again, all of you, for your interest and support!

Best regards,

Stephen Saloom
Founder of Concerts for Indigent Defense


John L. Moore

John L. Moore

WonderLand Production Studios

COO / Creative Director

John Thompson

John Thompson

Resurrection After Exoneration

Founder / Director



ELLA Project

ELLA Project




Caren Green

Caren Green

We do All We Can as Artist!  Thanks for the chance to GIVE BACK!

Casme’ Barnes

Casme’ Barnes

Love this show!

Zena Moses

Zena Moses

Live / Video Vault

WonderLand Production Studios

Live Stream Video

Media Coverage of Concerts for Indigent Defense: New Orleans 2017

March 10, 2017   Gambit Weekly feature article, Concerts for Indigent Defense to put Spotlight on Louisiana’s Public Defense Crisis, announces the event, highlighting the musicians’ and producers’ efforts to raise awareness among the community.  Article at:

March 14, 2017   WWL-TV New Orleans Morning Show, featuring five different songs by Concerts for Indigent Defense performer Caren Green, and interview segment with Concerts for Indigent Defense co-producer John Thompson.

March 16, 2017  NPR New Orleans affiliate WWNO’s All Things New Orleans, a 10-minute conversation about Concerts for Indigent Defense with founder and co-producer Stephen Saloom and Orleans Public Defenders’ Lindsey Hortenstine.   Listen to the broadcast:

March 17, 2017  WBOK-AM 1270’s “The Conscious Hour” with radio host Chuck Perkins, “engaged and enraged with the black community, aware of his community’s history, of past and present oppressions, compassionate towards the youth but despairing too.”  20 minute interview with Concerts for Indigent Defense co-founder Stephen Saloom, concluding with invitation to come back to explore the issues more deeply.  Returned for one-hour in-studio discussion with Chuck on May 4, 2017.

March 17, 2017 – WHIV-FM and,  hour-long interview on Chris Lane’s Eat, Pray, Fight with Concerts for Indigent Defense co-producers John Thompson and John Moore, and Lindsey Hortenstine of Orleans Public Defenders.

March 18, 2017 – WWL-TV Evening and Late Evening News programs,  segment on the production of Concerts for Indigent Defense: New Orleans, taped at Wonderland Production Studios.

March 20, 2017  – Louisiana Weekly, “New Orleans multicultural news source since 1925,”published an article entitled Study: Blacks comprise majority of defendants who are wrongfully convicted after the outreach to its editors brought the report to their attention.


The Problem and Solutions

The failures of our governments to enforce poor people’s Constitutional right to counsel span the nation, with the terrible situation in New Orleans putting those problems on full display.   The following articles, reports, and organizations begin to describe the extent of the problem; the facts and data demonstrating how this right is disregarded across the country; the terrible costs borne by the people, families, and communities whose fundamental Constitutional rights are routinely denied; and what’s needed for America to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to all.

American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants 2017 report on Louisiana’s devastating neglect of indigent defense: article on ABA report, “Louisiana has one-fifth the public defenders needed”

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers report assessing “the root causes of perhaps the most prolonged and severe public defense crisis in the nation.

Orleans Public Defender Derwyn Bunton’s recent article about the public safety costs of public defense failures:

National Registry of Exonerations March 2017 infographic demonstrating their research results regarding racial disparities in wrongful convictions

Orleans Public Defender, which fights every day to provide for poor people’s fundamental Constitutional right to effective representation when accused of a crime in New Orleans:

The National Association for Public Defense, which engages public defense professionals in America to address the systemic failure to provide the constitutional right to counsel, and to collaborate with diverse partners to bring meaningful access to justice for poor people:

The Sixth Amendment Center, which seeks to ensure that no person faces potential time in jail without fist having the aid of a lawyer with the time, ability, and resources to present an effective defense, as required under the United States Constitution:
There are many other legal organizations in New Orleans and Louisiana that also provide important post-conviction representation for poor people wrongly convicted of crimes – many of whom suffered from inadequate representation prior to their conviction – including (but not at all limited to):

The Justice Center,, which houses:
The Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, a capital trial office providing indigent defense services, and
The Capital Appeals Project, the statewide office for capital appeals for the indigent in Louisiana.

Innocence Project New Orleans, which provides free legal assistance to prisoners seeking to prove their innocence and be exonerated for their wrongful convictions