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Heads of Missouri Bar, state’s public defender system stepping down


After more than four years at the helm of the Missouri State Public Defender System, Michael Barrett is resigning with plans to return to New York. His wife, Sebrina Barrett, is also stepping down from her position as executive director of The Missouri Bar, The Missouri Times confirmed. 

Michael Barrett said he informed staff about his impending departure but is still working on a transition timetable. 

A spokeswoman for Sebrina Barrett said she will be leaving her post “in the next few months.” 

As the director of the public defender’s office, Michael Barrett was vocal about funding woes. He garnered national media attention when he appointed Gov. Jay Nixon as counsel on a case, blasting him for budget restrictions he placed on the office. 

“It strikes me that I should begin with the one attorney in the state who not only created this problem but is in a unique position to address it,” Michael Barrett said. 

He said state law gave him the authority to appoint any member of the state bar to represent an individual who could not afford an attorney. 

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), a nonprofit dedicated to protecting New York’s lands and waters, announced Thursday Michael Barrett would become its new director in November.  

“I look forward to building on the successes that have already been achieved by this incredible organization,” he said in a statement. 

Sebrina Barrett is the first woman to lead The Missouri Bar, having been in the position since 2013. Before, she worked for the organization as the deputy executive director. 

“I am thrilled to report that Sebrina and her family are embarking on a new adventure; I am saddened that the adventure will require her to leave us,” Tom Bender, The Missouri Bar president, said in a statement. “While here, she has continued to find ways to help us even better work as an organization and to better serve our attorneys and the public.” 

“It has been an honor to work with such dedicated and caring board members and officers, current and past, as we have helped lawyers even better serve their clients,” Sebrina Barrett said. “The activities of The Missouri Bar are supported by a highly skilled and professional team, and it has been my honor and pleasure to serve alongside each of them.” 

Prior to joining The Missouri Bar, Sebrina Barrett worked for the New York State Bar Association and clerked for then-Missouri Supreme Court Judge Michael Wolff. 

She was named to The Missouri Times’ 100+ List in 2015.

Before leading the state’s public defender system, Michael Barrett worked as counsel for the Department of Natural Resources and deputy general counsel for Nixon. 

A former foreign language interrogator for the U.S. Army, Michael Barrett served as an attorney for the New York State Assembly Codes Committee and held positions in the administrations of former New York Govs. Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson, both Democrats.