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Please send nominations privately to:


One of the most important things we can do as a community of criminal defense lawyers is recognize and honor our colleagues for their expertise, commitment, and dedication to the cause.


Every year the WACDL Board of Directors honors a Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer for exceptional service to individuals who are not able to afford to hire an attorney. This award is named after David C. Niblack, Wisconsin’s State Public Defender from 1979 until 1983. 


Dave Niblack will always be remembered by those for whom he advocated, and those he taught or befriended. He was a good friend to anyone committed to the protection of rights for the least popular among us. When our indigent clients had no one to stand with them, Dave stood with them. He delighted in teaching young attorneys the way, and he surely knew how to tell a story.

Directly because of his leadership, the SPD as we know it today survived in a period of daily attack and controversy. To honor Dave’s memory, and to encourage others to follow in his footsteps, WACDL has established the David C. Niblack Award, announced every December at the Ethics Seminar at which Dave taught. (Also known as “The Nibbie”)


The 2022 award recipient will be announced on December 10th at the Top of the Park at the Park Hotel, in Madison. Recent recipients include Michael Covey (2019), Eric Schulenburg (2020), Paige Styler (2021) and Dawn Rablin (2021).

Please send private nominations to and consider the following:


The purposes of the Niblack Award are:


  1. To recognize the contributions of an attorney to the effective defense of indigent persons charged with a crime, either cumulative career contributions or outstanding accomplishments.


  1. To honor and preserve the memory of an outstanding attorney who
    devoted his life and considerable talents to the defense of those who needed
    it but could not pay for it.




  • Pride and professionalism in the work;
  • Competence in provision of services; and
  • Respect for the clients.


Nominations should include enough history and background, with specifics when possible, to permit the judges to fully evaluate the nominee. An exceptional record of providing representation to indigent individuals is of particular importance. Nominations can be made by any member of WACDL or any employee of the State Public Defender Office. 


Nominations should be sent no later than November 16, 2022:


  1. By mail to Jessica Giesen or Lindsay Marty, Executive Directors, WACDL, PO BOX 909, Madison, Wisconsin 53701; or
  2. By fax to 608-255-3771; or
  3. By email to with “Niblack Nomination” in the subject line.


Please remember to include rationales, justifications, facts, reasons, etc. so the judges can make an informed decision.

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