Bio: Theodore Gottfried
Theodore A. Gottfried

By Michael J. Pelletier
State Appellate Defender

Ted Gottfried devoted 40 years to representing indigent criminal defendants. After graduating in 1966 from The John Marshall Law School, Ted worked briefly for a private firm until he was hired by the Cook County Public Defender’s Office where he worked in the trial and appeal divisions for two and a half years.

In the late 1960's a study commissioned by the Illinois Law Enforcement Commission was conducted by the Illinois Public Defender Association to ascertain the needs of indigent criminal defendants throughout the State. As a member of the Association, Ted participated in the study that recognized the need to provide quality representation on appeal. The Commission awarded a three year grant, effective January 1, 1970, to create the Illinois Defender Project which would establish regional appellate defender offices in the Appellate Districts. In 1970 Ted was named the head of the Third District Office of the Illinois Defender Project. One year later he became the Director of the Illinois Defender Project. During the three years of its existence, the Project maintained an excellent record of performance, handling over 2000 criminal appeals.

To continue the work of the Project and meet the need for appellate counsel in indigent criminal appeals, a bill was introduced in the Illinois legislature to create a state-wide Appellate Defender Office. The “State Appellate Defender Act” became effective on October 1, 1972. The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Ted Gottfried as the first State Appellate Defender in December 1972, and he was reappointed to nine four-year-terms. Ted retired on December 31, 2007, having served as the State Appellate Defender 35 years.

Under Ted’s leadership, indigent criminal defendants throughout the State received excellent representation from the Office of the State Appellate Defender. Ted never let excessive caseloads or limited resources compromise the high quality representation the clients deserved.

Ted’s exceptional managerial skills were recognized by many, including legislators. The State Appellate Defender’s scope of responsibility expanded over the years. Because of the death penalty, the legislature amended the OSAD Act to include a Supreme Court Unit, the Capital Post-Conviction Unit and the Capital Trial Assistance Unit. In each instance, legislators approached Ted and asked to give the Agency added responsibility rather than create another agency, because they were confident the Unit would be managed effectively by Ted.

Ted served on the Governor’s Commission on Capital Punishment which led to many reforms in the prosecution of capital cases. He was a zealous advocate on that Commission on behalf of the criminal defendants.

Before retiring Ted saw a cause he had championed for a number of years meet with success. Ted had communicated to Senator Durbin the need for a loan forgiveness program for defense attorneys who worked in the public sector. Senator Durbin sponsored legislation that passed and publicly credited Ted Gottfried for bringing the matter to light.

Throughout his illustrious career, Ted was recognized nationally and in Illinois for his leadership and dedication to serving indigent criminal defendants by advocating and preserving their appellate rights.