The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Carthage, Jasper County

January 11, 2008

Public defender honored for 25 years of service

By Greg Grisolano

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Part of the public defender’s creed is to do the job “without the pursuit of being acknowledged,” which is why Larry Maples was so characteristically modest when his friends and co-workers threw him a party on Friday to celebrate his 25th anniversary working for the Jasper County public defender’s office.

“I don’t think I particularly deserve this,” Maples said with a smile, as his colleagues sported paper bracelets with “WWLD” or “What Would Larry Do?” emblazoned on them.

Darren Wallace, district defender, said the bracelets were a reminder for attorneys seeking inspiration.

“He’s such an example for us; that’s what these are for,” he said. “Whenever we’re stuck on a case, we can think about ‘what would Larry do.’”

Co-public defender Nicki Neil said she credited Maples for always being willing to share his time and expertise with other attorneys in the office.

“There’s a saying ‘the prosecution rests,’” she said. “But Larry never does. He gets the worst of the worst cases but he always makes time to help everybody else out.”

Wallace said Maples’ tenure is one of the longest in the state for any public defender.

“We’ve had a handful who have made it to that milestone around the state,” he said. “He’s certainly one of the longtime defenders, and he’s influenced a lot of attorneys who’ve passed through this office.”

During his tenure, Maples has handled many of the office’s most serious cases.

“He’s the most experienced attorney in this office,” he said. “From the get-go, he was named a defender of distinction only seven years into his career.”

Maples said he was proud to work as a public defender.

“I’m thankful that we’re here and there’s a system to serve people,” he said. “You find that most of them are people just like the rest of us. Many of them are good people who in some cases made serious mistakes.”

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Carthage, Jasper County