About Us

"Public Pretenders." "Dump Trucks." "Give me a real attorney, not a public defender."

 

These are the many negative terms or phrases used against the attorneys who diligently safeguard the Constitutional rights of citizens against the vast power of the Government. The reality is that deputy public defenders across the state are dedicated, well-educated, productive members of their legal communities.

For over five decades, this Department has provided thousands of people with competent counsel, ensuring their rights to fair trial and due process, so that money is not the deciding factor for Justice. This has been done in an effective, efficient, and economical manner with the help of a highly motivated and talented staff. With a team of 14 attorneys, a newly-created Investigations Unit and 5 support staff to cover 4,000+ yearly cases in 9 courtrooms spanning South Lake Tahoe to Placerville, the Department strives to continually improve its' level of service to the clients and the community.

Attorneys in the Department represent adults and juveniles who are accused of felonies or misdemeanors, ranging from homicides to drug and traffic offenses, as well as clients admitted into specialty courts such as Veteran’s Court, Behavioral Health Court, Proposition 36 (Drug) Court, and DUI Court. These specialty courts serve hundreds of community members in crisis, giving them the extra attention and services they need in order to foster recovery and achieve a healthier life. When the efforts of the collaborative courts are successful, clients stay out of jail and do not commit further crimes, resulting in lower local costs for imprisonment and welfare benefits. The community benefits from a healthier citizenry. By striving to provide a holistic approach to legal representation, the Department focuses on the State's mandate to reduce recidivism and facilitate re-entry into the community.

The Department also represents vulnerable persons on legal petitions to establish or re-establish conservatorships (the mentally ill, seniors with deficits, and the developmentally delayed), to ensure fairness and transparency, as well as on petitions for involuntary medication and on writs for involuntary psychiatric holds.

The Chief Public Defender and her deputy public defenders participate in several standing committees such as the Pretrial Services Program, the Dual Status Youth Reform, the Crisis Intervention Team (“CIT”), the Community Corrections Partnership (“CCP”), and the Elder Prevention Unit (“EPU”). Attorneys in the office participate in Teen Court and in Mock Trial. Several attorneys serve on boards of local nonprofit organizations, in order to enrich their communities.