Cat Kelly

Cat KellyDirector, Missouri State Public Defender System

Cat Kelly was sworn in as Missouri’s fourth State Public Defender on February 28 of 2011 and is the first woman to hold that post. She is in her 29th year with the Missouri Public Defender System, having previously served as the head of the St. Louis City trial office, Regional Public Defender for the greater St. Louis area, the state system’s Training Division Director for fourteen years and then Deputy Director before being named by the Missouri Public Defender Commission to succeed the retiring director of 16 years, J. Marty Robinson. 


Cat is also a faculty member of the National Criminal Defense College at Mercer Law School, and has served as an adjunct professor of law at both Washington University (her alma mater) and at St. Louis University Schools of Law. She is a past recipient of the Missouri Bar’s Defender of Distinction Award, the Missouri Lawyers Media Women’s Justice Award, and was named one of Missouri’s Most Influential Lawyers for 2010. In 2012, she received the National Defender of Justice award from the National Association of Legal Aid and Defender’s Association.