The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has selected Ricardo Garcia to be the county’s new Public Defender.
One of California’s most accomplished and respected criminal defense attorneys, Garcia has dedicated his talents to defending indigent clients who could otherwise afford no representation.
Garcia, currently a supervising attorney in San Diego County’s Office of the Public Defender, is expected to begin his new role later this year.
Los Angeles County Supervisors praised Garcia as an acknowledged leader in a profession charged with ensuring the Constitution’s pledge of equal justice under law, regardless of the economic status of the defendant.
“There are few county services as critical to their recipients as those provided by the superb staff of the Office of the Public Defender,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Sheila Kuehl.
Ricardo Garcia, Public Defender (from LinkedIn)
“Their quality and dedication demand a leader who understands the challenges they face, who has walked their walk, and has fully demonstrated the professional capabilities and leadership capacity necessary to help them realize their full potential as protectors of the legal interests and general well-being of their clients,” she said. “The Board is delighted to have recruited one of the very best to this noble cause.”
“Ricardo Garcia is an exceptionally accomplished defense attorney who will elevate the L.A. County Public Defender’s Office as a model for holistic representation nationally, working collaboratively with the justice partners, service providers, community-based organizations and other key stakeholders,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said. “The County of Los Angeles is very fortunate to have such a seasoned attorney lead the first and largest Public Defender’s Office in the nation.”
“I’m so pleased that Ricardo Garcia will be leading the largest and oldest Public Defender department in the country,” Supervisor Hilda L. Solis said. “The importance of the Public Defender’s position cuts across all communities, and the Public Defender provides legal representation — a constitutional right — to those who cannot afford it. Ricardo Garcia is a highly qualified attorney and, as the first Latino to head a major L.A. County Department, I look forward to watching Ricardo take the Public Defender’s office to the next level.”
“After a thorough and exhaustive search, I look forward to having veteran trial attorney Ricardo Garcia serve as Los Angeles County’s new Public Defender,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “I am confident that he will be a strong partner in carrying out the Board of Supervisors’ criminal justice reform agenda and making the Office of the Public Defender the best it has ever been.”
“Ricardo Garcia is the right person for the job,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said. “Our Public Defenders work very hard every day to give the best possible legal defense, and in Ricardo Garcia they will have a leader at the helm who embodies their spirit and commitment to justice.”
In more than two decades as a public defender in San Diego County, he has tried numerous complex criminal cases, most recently as supervising attorney of the Multiple Conflicts Office/Major Cases. In that capacity, he has litigated a wide range of serious and violent felonies, as well as death penalty cases.
Garcia joined the San Diego County Public Defender’s Office in 1995 as a trial attorney. In 1998, he was recruited to join the Department of the Alternative Public Defender, created to handle multiple-defendant conflict cases.
From 2004-06, he served as the Criminal Justice Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, where he was responsible for monitoring the consent decree with the Los Angeles Police Department as well as conditions within the L.A. County jails.
Garcia returned to the San Diego Alternative Public Defender Department in 2006 as supervising attorney of its South Bay Office, before moving to his current post in 2009.
Beyond his skills in the courtroom, he is also a sought-after educator. In addition to serving as an adjunct professor of Criminal Procedure & Motions Practice at California Western School of Law, he is a faculty member at the Shechmeister Death Penalty College at Santa Clara University.
Garcia also lectures on litigating complex gang cases in the continuing legal education programs of the California Public Defenders Association. In addition, he teaches Spanish language trial skills to graduate student lawyers.
He was named Trial Lawyer of the Year by the San Diego Criminal Defense Bar Association in 2015. He was awarded the Dale Melvin Ray Memorial Award for Excellence in the Representation of the Indigent by San Diego County’s Department of the Alternate Public Defender.
Garcia holds a BA with highest honors from UC Santa Cruz, and a Juris Doctor from Boalt Hall School of Law (now known as Berkeley Law).