Tennessee District Public Defenders Conference


A defendant convicted of a criminal offense has a constitutional right to representation on direct appeal.

The Appellate Division of Tennessee’s District Public Defenders Conference provides direct representation for indigent clients in the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals and Tennessee Supreme Court, which involves researching and writing appellate briefs and presenting oral arguments. The appellate attorneys also provide support for public defenders at the trial level, which involves reviewing, drafting, and editing pretrial motions and assisting with the development of trial records in anticipation of later appeals. The Appellate Division strives for excellence in written and oral advocacy with the goal of elevating the overall quality of criminal defense work in Tennessee while focusing on individual clients and improving client-specific outcomes.

In addition to representing clients, the Appellate Division continuously improves indigent defense in Tennessee by:

  • Tracking and reporting on legal issues that are important to public defenders and public defender clients across the state
  • Responding to public defenders’ legal research needs
  • Consulting with public defenders on pretrial litigation and their preservation of legal issues for future appeals
  • Assisting public defenders with all aspects of appellate litigation, from strategic planning at the motion for new trial stage to brief- writing and oral argument on appeal
  • Offering online research materials and topic-driven resources, including a searchable bank of trial court motions and appellate briefs
  • Delivering, together with the TNDPDC’s Training Division, professional development programs on appellate practice and procedure, as well as on developments in the law
  • Offering the assistance of an appellate forensic social worker who provides wrap-around services that increase opportunities for re- entry and help to reduce the risk of recidivism

Serving All Counties

Brennan Wingerter

Brennan M. Wingerter is the Director of the Appellate Division for the Tennessee District Public Defenders Conference. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tennessee College of Law with a concentration in
Advocacy and Dispute Resolution. During law school, she worked for the Federal Defender Services of Eastern Tennessee, the Orleans Public Defenders, and Professor Emerita Penny White. Before joining the TNDPDC’s Appellate Division in 2019, Brennan clerked for Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade; taught law school courses in legal writing, appellate advocacy, experiential learning, and academic success; and founded a regional law firm handling civil and criminal appeals in Eastern Tennessee.

Brennan Wingerter

Election History
Appointed 2019