Defense Services Office celebrates its 20-year Anniversary

October 20, 2023


Submission by

Defense Services Office


Oct. 11, 2023 marked the 20-year anniversary celebration of Defense Services Office, the Community’s public defense office. 


DSO invited community members and special guests to join in the celebration. Governor Stephen R. Lewis offered welcoming for the event, praising the work of DSO and reminding everyone of its service to the Community in making sure the accused are properly defended. 


He acknowledged past leadership for developing the Community’s public defense office two decades ago and recognized the event’s other speakers: Community member Aaron Sabori and Keynote Speaker Diane Enos from Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. In her keynote speech, Ms. Enos mentioned the many times she as SRP-MIC President and Governor Lewis worked together on tribal issues in the state and nationally. 


Governor Lewis’ father, the late Rod Lewis, then General Counsel for the Community, was one of those leaders who were instrumental in establishing the department. 


Next, Community member Aaron Sabori, artist and former paralegal of DSO, spoke about the importance of culture to be instilled in Community departments, such as DSO’s 15-person office. DSO is comprised of 11 Native employees of which six are Community members.


Back in October of 2019, Mr. Sabori led a cultural event for DSO. He spearheaded the building the Vatho that sits in front of the office facing Bluebird Rd. across from the Mul-Chu-Tha fairgrounds parking lot. Mr. Sabori recently returned to reinforce the Vatho and now will stand tall for the next 20 years. 


To close out the celebration, Ms. Enos recounted her many years as a public defender in Maricopa County, some of those years while simultaneously serving on SRP-MIC Council. She spoke of the humanity of her clients. Throughout her professional career, she supported adult rehabilitation and child development, programs that address recidivism and crime prevention. 


As the night ended, Lt. Governor stopped by to offer encouraging words to DSO staff members.   “In the early 80’s, Due Process to families was not available,” Lt. Governor said, noting that the tribal judges knew defendants needed public defense representation. “I recall Mr. Ray Vaca as the first director who started the department. The Defense office has come a long way under the leadership of Claude Jackson and his team. Thank you defense services for 20 years of service to our Community.” 


DSO thanks the Governor, Lt. Governor, Tribal Council and the Court for its many years of support and promises to maintain its highest level of criminal defense for its clients.