Claudia Saari



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Claudia Saari is the Circuit Public Defender for DeKalb County, Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit. Ms. Saari received a bachelor’s degree from Brown University in 1984 and a law degree from Emory University School of Law in 1987. She joined the DeKalb County Public Defender’s Office in 1987 and over the next three decades tried a wide variety of cases ranging from DUI to death penalty cases, and the first criminal trial in Georgia that featured DNA evidence. Ms. Saari now leads an office of over 100 people who represent clients in Juvenile Court, State Court, Superior Court, Magistrate Court, Appellate Courts, and all Accountability Courts and diversion programs. Ms. Saari is a Fellow with the American College of Trial Lawyers, serves on both the State Committee and the Access to Justice Committee, and previously chaired its national Public Defender Committee. She is a 1999 graduate of Leadership DeKalb, a Master with the Carley-Clarke Inn of Court, a member of the State Bar Board of Governors, a former member of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, and Chairperson of the Commission on Continuing Lawyer Competency. Ms. Saari also serves on a number of committees and boards including the Indigent Defense committee for both the State Bar and the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, serves as a Regional Vice President for the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, an Advisory Board member for the Emory University School of Law Public Interest Law Committee, a Steering Committee member for the DeKalb Reentry Services Division for the Department of Community Services, a Board member with the Olmsted Linear Park Alliance, a former officer with the Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve, and served on the Board of Directors for Gideon’s Promise. In 2009, Ms. Saari was the recipient of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Indigent Defense Award, a 2018, 2019, and 2022 recipient of the GACDL President’s Commitment to GACDL Award, in 2016 she was honored by the American Constitution Society with its Legal Legend Award, and in 2020 she received the Gideon’s Promise John Lewis Lifetime Achievement Award.