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July 19
1924 - Sherman Block, L.A. County's 29th Sheriff (1982-1998), born in Chicago [story]


The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors invites you to join us in celebrating Public Defense Day today to honor the 55th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Gideon v. Wainwright.

This decision declared that defendants in criminal cases have the right to counsel, regardless of their ability to pay.

It is, therefore, both appropriate and necessary to recognize the approximately 1,400 Los Angeles County staff, including more than 900 lawyers, who work tirelessly in Los Angeles County’s Public Defender and Alternate Public Defender offices.

These individuals are dedicated to defending the liberty interests of their clients as well as advocating for access to the other public services and resources they need to be productive and healthy members of the community.

Los Angeles County has a long history of demonstrated leadership working towards the just and humane treatment of all its residents, regardless of economic status. This has most recently been demonstrated through the Homeless Initiative, Whole Person Care and the offices of Diversion and Re-entry and Immigrant Affairs.

In 1913, Los Angeles County established the nation’s first Public Defender position, striking out alone and early in assuring free counsel to those without the ability to pay.

This idea was pushed a good 70 years before the Gideon decision by Clara Shortridge Foltz, the first woman lawyer in California, speaking at the Chicago World’s Fair. This action became a model for many other jurisdictions throughout California and across the country. If a jurisdiction of the size, diversity and complexity of Los Angeles County could meet this challenge, surely so could other jurisdictions.

Public defenders are charged with mounting the most rigorous and relentless defense of an indigent client’s rights under the law. No two offices in the nation serve their clients more passionately and aggressively than this County’s Public Defender and Alternate Public Defender.

Janice Fukai has served as Alternate Public Defender since 2002 and was the first Asian American woman to serve as a department head in the county of Los Angeles. Working with her highly dedicated staff, she has established a collaborative and congenial environment which allows her talented staff to provide consistently outstanding service to each of their clients.

The Board of Supervisors is currently undergoing an extensive search for the next Public Defender of Los Angeles County. The Board recognizes the awesome responsibility of the Public Defender, and is diligently seeking an individual with deep dedication to individualized justice for diverse populations and the ability to inspire and lead the hardworking and dedicated staff of the Office of the Public Defender.

During this interim period, the Office is being ably led by Nicole Davis Tinkham, who is serving in this temporary role with grace and dedication—both to the people she is leading and to the clients they serve.

This Board believes that the Public Defender is also responsible for playing a leadership role in policy issues of a more general nature — bail reform, juvenile justice, Proposition 47 initiatives including sentence reduction, to name a few — and for advising the Board as it determines which of these issues to address and what potential actions to consider.

The Public Defender and their staff have a body of experience and expertise, as well as a singular perspective, which the Board respects and takes into account as it shapes and reshapes County policy. This opportunity to both champion the cause of indigent defendants and influence the policies and practices of America’s largest local jurisdiction creates a unique opportunity for the next Public Defender to assume a premier national leadership position.

People join the Los Angeles County Offices of Public Defender and Alternate Public Defender because they truly believe in a defendant’s right to a complete and robust defense. The Constitution, Bill of Rights and favorable case law serve as a public defender’s arsenal.

To celebrate this day and this critical work, we offer a quote from Justice Black in the Gideon decision: “[R]eason and reflection require us to recognize that, in our adversary system of criminal justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him. This seems to us to be an obvious truth.”

Happy Public Defense Day!.

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1 Comment

  1. Juslikethat says:

    Does this mean the Bd saw the lunacy of putting County Counsel in just about every department b/c they umm, are civil government lawyers, know some laws, & can maybe get rid of employees? Serve as the Bd’s moles? Act to terminate employees now while banking on the County’s stamina against a jobless employee’s lawsuit later?
    The audacity that they’d even consider appointing a civil lawyer who DEFENDED the sheriffs against police brutality lawsuits & this very PD’s Ofc she was tasked with leading. Zero criminal experience. Zero experience smashing your hand against the desk to prevent it from shaking during a death verdict. Zero experience walking into lockup, having to interview & gain the trust of 10 or so clients who were arrested over the weekend & believe you’re sleeping w/ the DA – literally. Zero experience having feces rubbed on your chest by a mentally ill client in open court. Zero experience watching your client shot & killed in court during sentencing only to announce ready for the next trial. Zero experience holding a mom’s hand knowing she will likely never hug her son again. Zero experience with a judge who excluded all prior convictions of a prosecution witness yet admitted all prior convictions of your client at trial. Zero experience telling a client NOT to discuss our trial strategy in a hearing to fire you because you’re still absolutely protecting him even though he’s trying to fire you. … Who’s novel idea was this to put this ZERO EXPERIENCE as head of the largest U.S. defense firm representing the indigent, of-color, criminally accused? WT-Serious-F?

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LOS ANGELES COUNTY HEADLINES
Thursday, Jul 19, 2018
The Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority on Thursday launched the Los Angeles Homeless Outreach Portal, dubbed LA-HOP, the new Countywide Web-based portal that channels outreach support to people experiencing homelessness.
Tuesday, Jul 17, 2018
Supervisor Kathryn Barger cast the lone vote opposing a motion to place a measure on the November ballot which seeks to increase property taxes on residential and commercial properties to generate approximately $300 million a year to fund additional stormwater projects.
Tuesday, Jul 17, 2018
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to move forward with a comprehensive plan to increase local water supply and improve water quality.
Tuesday, Jul 17, 2018
The county of Los Angeles and community partners are working hand-in-hand to combat homelessness, which has decreased for the first time in four years.
Monday, Jul 16, 2018
The Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District confirmed West Nile virus in a sample of mosquitoes collected from Panorama City (zip code 91402), the first confirmation of WNV activity in the district’s service area this year.

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