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Public Defender

Salary: N/A

DEFINITION: Under general administrative direction, to plan, organize and direct the legal activities and services of the Public Defender's Office; and to do related work as required.

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: This is an at-will department head class. The incumbent is exempt from Civil Service and serves at the pleasure of the Board of Supervisors and County Administrator. This position is responsible for the administration and direction of a staff engaged in the defense of persons who are not financially able to employ counsel and who are charged with the commission of contempt or offenses triable in the Superior, Municipal, and Justice Courts, or who are parties to certain other specified civil actions.

EXAMPLES OF DUTIES: Plans, organizes, and directs a program for providing legal counsel and representation to eligible persons accused of criminal offenses; formulates and applies policies related to the Public Defender's Office; assigns criminal calendar to appropriate staff members; consults with staff on the conduct of cases in progress and gives advice and assistance as necessary; reviews and evaluates completed staff work; discusses the public defense program with judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officials, and other persons to obtain information and possible action relative to defendants; personally appears in court as defense attorney of major and other cases or at arraignment to obtain first-hand knowledge of cases going to court; confers with office staff on clerical problems, record keeping, and reporting systems, and initiates changes as required; prepares and administers departmental budget; dictates correspondence and prepares reports.

EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS: Active membership in the State Bar of California and:

1. Broad, extensive, and progressively responsible administrative experience as an attorney in criminal law; or,
2. equivalent combination of training, education, and experience would provide the required knowledge, abilities, and license.

Possession of a valid California Class C Driver's License.

Knowledge of: philosophy and practice of public defense in the United States; duties, powers, limitations, and responsibility of the Public Defender's Officer; methods and problems of administering the work of a governmental law office; legal principles and their application with emphasis on criminal law; rules of evidence and the conduct of court proceedings; legal research methods; principles of personnel management and supervision.

Ability to: supervise investigations and defend criminal complaints and civil actions; analyze difficult and complex legal problems and apply legal principles and practices; present statements of fact, law, and argument clearly and logically in written and oral form; draft legal instruments and opinions; perform legal research; win the confidence and respect of members of the legal profession, public officials, and other persons contacted in the work.

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