David Wiegert honored as 2021 Defender of Distinction
In conjunction with The Missouri Bar’s annual meeting, the Missouri Public Defender Commission selects a public defender who exemplifies the ideal of public defense for the Defender of Distinction award each year.
This year’s honoree is David Wiegert, a trial team leader for the Missouri State Public Defender’s office in Kansas City.
Wiegert has worked at the Missouri State Public Defender since 2012, both in Caruthersville and currently in Kansas City. He completed his undergraduate studies at William Jewell College in 2008 and received his law degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 2011. In addition, Wiegert also graduated from the National Criminal Defense College in 2018.
Several of Wiegert’s cases in indigent criminal defense stand out for him. In one instance a murder case ended in mistrial, but a juror from that case came back as an observer for the retrial and sat with the defendant’s anxious mother all week, comforting her. In another, a client nearly cracked his ribs with a bear hug when the not guilty verdict came back for a client on trial for murder. One client facing life openly wept when his not guilty verdict was read, while holding Wiegert’s hand.
Clients drive the passion for the work Wiegert does. “It is incredibly satisfying to fight on behalf of people who have basically nothing against a system that, save for the instructions read to the jury, mostly presumes them guilty.”
“The patience, understanding, and hope that our clients exhibit while waiting for their cases to resolve is incredibly humbling and drives me to do better,” says Wiegert.
Wiegert’s advice for new lawyers is indicative of who he is. He advises:
be honest about your values and to find ways to put your skills to use in service of those values.
Treat everyone well, because being good to others does you more good than it does them.
Be genuine. Insincerity is exhausting, and you don't have energy to waste on that.
Be humble, or you will never grow.
“I am grateful and lucky to have colleagues who refuse to let the cart precede the horse; who care more about justice than fortune and fame; who possess staggering levels of self-command.” Wiegert finished by stating, “I am humbled by this award. Thank you.”
For more information about awards presented in conjunction with The Missouri Bar annual meeting, click here.