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James J. Abbs

Chief Public Defender, Mr. Abbs grew up in Noble County and attended the University of Wisconsin River Falls and the Washburn School of Law in Kansas. Upon his graduation from law school, he practiced law in Minneapolis/St. Paul with one of the best known defense attorneys in Minnesota. During that period of time he tried major felony cases, including murder, throughout the state of Minnesota. In 1992 Mr. Abbs returned to Indiana and began private practice in Noble County and also served as a panel attorney for Federal Public Defender cases. He has tried over 40 major felony cases in 3 states and in the Federal Courts. He has successfully argued before the Minnesota Supreme Court and before the United States 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. He has over 30 years of criminal defense experience. In 1994 Mr. Abbs became a part-time Public Defender in Noble County and in the year 2002 became the Chief Public Defender. He now handles murder and A through C Felonies along with juvenile cases besides his administrative duties. He has also served as President of the Indiana Chief Public Defenders' Association and as a board member of the Indiana Public Defender Counsel. In 2009, he received the Gideon Award from the Indiana Public Defender Council which is the highest award a public defender can receive in Indiana.

Howard F. Hanson

Deputy Public Defender, Mr. Hanson grew up in Northwest Indiana and is a graduate of Grace College and Ohio Northern University School of Law. Mr. Hanson began his practice of law in Allen County and eventually moved into Noble County. He has been practicing for over 30 years and has Felony trial experience. Mr. Hanson presently handles all D Felony cases filed in Noble County.

Jon Owen  retired

Deputy Public Defender, Mr. Owen is a lifelong resident of Noble County. He is a graduate from Indiana University in Bloomington and from the Indiana University Law School in Indianapolis. Mr. Owen has been practicing law for over 35 years. He has an extensive criminal practice along with experiences of being a city attorney and handling other civil matters. Mr. Owen is an experienced litigator and presently handles Misdemeanor cases filed in Noble County.

Kathryn Byrom

Chief Deputy Public Defender, Ms. Byrom grew up in Noble County. She graduated from Indiana University magna cum laude in 2001 and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In, 2005, she graduated from Valparaiso University with a juris doctorate degree and a masters in psychology. She began in a private practice and then served two years as an attorney for the Department of Family and Children Services. She now handles mainly CHINS cases for the Agency and also does misdemeanor cases.

Christopher Jansen

Deputy Public Defender, Mr. Jansen grew up in Noble County and is a graduate of East Noble High School. He graduated from IUPUI in 1999 and served as a Probation Officer for the Noble County Probation Department. In May, 2013, he graduated from the Thomas F. Cooley, School of Law, cum laude. Mr. Jansen is presently assigned to handle Misdemeanor and CHINS cases. He also has a solo law practice Located in Kendallville, Indiana.

Bart Arnold


Bart L. Arnold was born in Anderson, Indiana in 1970. Mr. Arnold was admitted to practice law in Indiana in 1997. Mr. Arnold attended college at Indiana University and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications and English in 1992. He attended the Valparaiso University School of Law and earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1997. Mr. Arnold is currently serving as a public defender for Felony cases for the Noble County Public Defender’s Office and continues to maintain a private practice in Fort Wayne, Indiana at Arnold/Terrill P.C.

Mr. Arnold formerly worked as a part-time public defender in the Allen County, Indiana in various divisions, for 20 years, where he won an award for distinguished service to mentally ill individuals as awarded by the Mental Health Association of Allen County in 2006.  Prior to practicing law, he served as a law clerk for the Honorable Superior Court Judge Daniel Heath in the Allen County Superior Court. He is admitted to practice law before the U.S. District Court and the Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana. Principal areas of practice are Criminal Defense; Traffic Law and Juvenile Delinquency.

Mr. Arnold has served on the Board for the Allen County Bar Association and previously served as the Board’s President. Mr. Arnold also currently serves as the co-chair of the Criminal Defense Section of the Allen County Bar Association. In 2013 Mr. Arnold was named a Fellow of the Indiana State Bar Foundation

Sarah E. Ober

Deputy Public Defender, Sarah E. Ober, was born and raised in Noble County and is a 2011 graduate of Central Noble High School. She graduated from Ball State University in 2015, shortly after becoming a member of the national academic honor society Lambda Epsilon Chi. In May 2018, Ober graduated cum laude from New England Law | Boston, located in Boston, Massachusetts. During her time in law school, Ober provided legal services as a student attorney for the New England Law | Boston Clinical Law Office, served as a law clerk in the family law department of Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster, worked as a judicial intern for the Middlesex Probate and Family Court, and was an associate member of the New England Law Review. Ober spent her summers interning for Tipton Law Group and frequently provided freelance legal research and writing support for the firm during the academic year. Ober has dedicated her practice to criminal defense and collateral issues, and presently assigned to handle misdemeanor and CHINS cases as well as Level 6 Felony cases filed in Noble County. 

Head Shot, Helen.jpg


Deputy Public Defender, Ms. Helen L. Newman was raised in DeKalb County, Indiana. Helen has an associate of science degree in paralegal studies from Ivy Tech, a bachelor’s degree in general studies from Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne, a JD from Western Michigan University and a LLM in Homeland and National Security from Western Michigan University. Helen has been practicing criminal defense since 2014. 

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