ST. PAUL — The Nobles County Public Defenders office received the 2020 Changemaker Award Thursday from the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota.
The Ron DeHarpporte Changemaker Award, the ACLU described, "honors an individual or organization who has worked closely with the ACLU-MN to protect civil liberties in Minnesota.
"The NCPD office has assisted us in lawsuits against the Nobles County Sheriff and the Worthington Police Department. They have protected immigrant rights in Nobles County by keeping us aware of detention violations and alerting us to cases across southern Minnesota, despite facing significant blowback from their work," the award summary reads.
Public defender Amanda Delaney accepted the award on behalf of NCPD during a virtual ceremony Thursday.
"First and foremost, I'm fighting for my clients," Delaney said in an interview shown during the event. "But on a larger scale, I think that I'm fighting for society at large. People don't understand that my clients are the gatekeepers to our Constitutional rights.
"A lot of the time, I'm the only voice that these people have," she explained. "A lot of my clients come from marginalized communities. It's easy to turn your back on them, to not listen to what they have to say, to not believe what they're saying — but when myself or another public defender stands up and says that the conduct that happened here was not right, people will take notice.
"To me, this award is just a recognition of all the work that not only myself, but my entire office, has done, and really the (Fifth Judicial) District," Delaney added. "There are plenty of attorneys I've worked with who are not in my office who also worked really hard to try to give our clients a sense of being heard and a sense of justice and the knowledge that they can't be treated like they're not people. It's a recognition that when we take on these harder issues, it doesn't go unrecognized."