Readers React: The problem isn’t L.A. County public defenders, it’s how the Board of Supervisors treats them
To the editor: As a retired 36-year veteran public defender, trial attorney and attorney manager, I was sad to read your editorial on the current state of the Los Angeles County office. (“Is the new public defender ending or stoking office turmoil?” editorial, Feb. 9)
I was disappointed in your insinuation of a diminution of the quality of representation offered. Your emphasis on a couple of unfortunate cases is not a fair representation of the work done by the public defender’s office.
The problem is not the quality of the staff, but rather the manner in which the Board of Supervisors subordinates the staff’s importance. As long as I can remember, public defender staff have had to fight for every penny in their budget.
If the supervisors are unwilling to guarantee a specific term for a new public defender coming from outside the office, they will not get a commitment from a quality candidate who will likely be leaving an influential position in the private sector.
To the editor: I have been an attorney with the L.A. County public defender’s office for the last 30 years. In that time I have seen many changes.
One thing has remained the same: I work with hundreds of skilled, dedicated and passionate criminal defense attorneys who represent our indigent clients zealously and tirelessly every day.
Regardless of the issues we may currently be facing, you may be assured that L.A.’s poor are indeed being defended by the best.
Jean Burke, Los Angeles
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