County of Alameda

Public Defender (#3140)

Bargaining Unit: Unrep - Senior Executive Mgmt (071)
$140.87-$192.13 Hourly / $11,269.60-$15,370.40 BiWeekly /
$24,417.47-$33,302.53 Monthly / $293,009.60-$399,630.40 Yearly

Under direction of the County Administrator's Office, carries out the duties of the Public Defender as set forth in Section 27 of the County Charter and the General Law. Plans, organizes, and directs a service delivery program for providing legal counsel and representation to eligible persons, adults and minors accused of criminal violations of the law; provides ethical, competent and effective counsel to represent adults and children before the juvenile court under Welfare and Institutions Code Sections 602; represents persons in involuntary commitment proceedings; defends all other cases properly assigned; performs all related legal and investigative work as required.


The Public Defender is the chief administrative officer for the department and is responsible for the development and administration of the County's public defense program for indigent persons. As such, the incumbent directs the efforts of a staff of attorneys, investigators, legal assistants, and office clerical personnel, and administers a program of legal counseling and representation for persons accused of violations of criminal law, juveniles and their parents brought before the juvenile court, and persons undergoing involuntary commitment proceedings for mental illness and other cases as assigned. Direction is exercised through the Senior Assistant, Assistant, and Deputy Public Defenders who have program or area responsibility.

NOTE: The following are the duties performed by employees in this classification. However, employees may perform other related duties at an equivalent level. Each individual in the classification does not necessarily perform all duties listed.

1. Plans, organizes, and directs the provision of legal services to eligible persons accused of criminal offenses; establishes, refines and applies policies related to the public defense program.

2. Interviews applicants for employment, hires new employees, and evaluates employee performance; develops and directs an in-service training program, stimulates employees to develop increased competence in the work, and to seek advancement; initiates and approves personnel transactions and the assignment of personnel.

3. Assigns individual attorneys to specific cases and to branch offices and various courts; personally reviews samplings of materials related to incoming or continuing workload.

4. Consults with legal staff on the conduct of cases in progress, and gives advice and assistance as necessary; reviews selected incoming and outgoing correspondence, completed files on closed cases, reports of completed investigations, and other materials comprising finished work.

5. May personally appear in court as defense attorney during peak periods, or to obtain first-hand knowledge of major cases, or to engage personally in collaborative court processes. Decides on borderline cases of eligibility for legal services; reviews and assigns capital and other high profile cases; determines whether appellate action should be taken in any case; reviews and evaluates summaries prepared by legal staff relating to pending cases; reviews and makes final determination in complex conflict of interest cases.

6. Confers with senior staff members regarding policies, procedures and activities of the departmental program; discusses the public defense program with elected officials, judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officials and similar persons; is knowledgeable about changes in statutory and decisional law, and directs the attention of the staff to changes.

7. Develops and implements office policy for all professional and non-professional staff.

8. Prepares annual reports for the County Auditor in order that the County may receive subsidies from the State; prepares an annual report to the Board of Supervisors in connection with budget formulation and at other times; establishes and maintains a system of office forms, procedures, record keeping and reporting systems.

9. Speaks before civic and professional groups to explain and interpret the public defense program; attends professional meetings and conferences; represents the department in all matters; is knowledgeable about national, state and local trends and practices in criminal jurisprudence.

10. Directs the preparation of the departmental budget, showing justification for requested appropriations and staffing; administers the approved budget and controls expenditures.

11. Develops and administers a program for staff performance evaluation, and maintains performance and ethical standards at all levels.


Either I

The equivalent of one-year full-time experience in the class of Senior Assistant Public Defender or the equivalent of two years of experience as an Assistant Public Defender in the Alameda County classified service.



The equivalent of ten years’ full-time experience as an attorney practicing in criminal defense work with significant experience in litigation of serious felony cases and at least 12 months’ experience as the direct supervisor of at least ten attorneys, or in supervising a branch office or subsection of a public defender’s office. (Experience in administering legal services in a government agency, or in a large private firm with an active criminal trial practice is especially desirable.)



Any combination of training, education and experience that is equivalent to one of the patterns listed above and will provide the required knowledge and abilities.



Current membership in the State Bar of California in good standing.
Possession of a valid California Motor Vehicle Operator's license.


NOTE: The Civil Service Commission may modify the above Minimum Qualifications in the announcement of an examination.

NOTE: The level and scope of the following knowledge and abilities are related to duties listed under the “Examples of Duties” section of this specification.

Knowledge of:

• The philosophy and practice of public defense in the United States.
• Legal ethics and professional responsibility.
• The philosophy and general scope of law enforcement in the United States.
• The California Penal Code, Evidence Code, Welfare and Institutions Code, and relevant case law.
• Court proceedings, discovery techniques, jury selection, settlement practices, sentencing laws, and other legal processes related to trial and appellate proceedings.
• Duties, powers, limitations, and responsibilities of a public defender.
• Legal research methodologies.
• Principles and techniques of supervision and training.

Ability to:

• Apply legal principles and practices to complex legal cases or problems.
• Prepare legal research and present statements of fact, argument, and recommendations concerning public defense systems and services.
• Demonstrate cultural sensitivity and competency toward clients of diverse racial, cultural and socio economic backgrounds.
• Formulate annual budget and monitor expenditures and revenue.
• Supervise, train, counsel, and review the work of subordinates.
• Prepare correspondence and reports and establish controls for records management.
• Communicate effectively with a variety of individuals representing diverse cultures and backgrounds and function calmly in situations which require a high degree of sensitivity, tact and diplomacy.
• Demonstrate commitment to the County's Mission, Vision and Values.
• Lead in a manner that is visionary, strategic and innovative when working towards change.
• Collaborate with other Agencies and Departments to meet overall county-wide needs while leveraging financial and other resources.
• Use business acumen to build a strong organization which delivers results.
• Provide the highest level of service delivery to diverse customers.
• Use interpersonal skills to communicate effectively.
• Promote personal and professional growth for self and others.
• Work effectively as a member and leader of diverse teams.

GAC:pb: 10/l967/Retyped: 2-4-77
BG:pb/Updated: 11/86
DF:jc/Updated: 1/95
TB:jc/Updated 8/99
Old document: 0374h
New document: Jobspecs/3140
RE Dept. Head Project 3/2012


Alameda County offers a comprehensive and competitive benefits package that affords wide-ranging health care options to meet the different needs of a diverse workforce and their families. We also sponsor many different employee discount, fitness and health screening programs focused on overall well being.  These benefits include but are not limited to*:

For your Health & Well-Being

  • Medical – HMO & PPO Plans
  • Dental – HMO & PPO Plans
  • Vision or Vision Reimbursement
  • Share the Savings
  • Basic Life Insurance 
  • Supplemental Life Insurance (with optional dependent coverage for eligible employees)
  • Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance 
  • County Allowance Credit
  • Flexible Spending Accounts - Health FSA, Dependent Care and Adoption Assistance
  • Short-Term Disability Insurance
  • Long-Term Disability Insurance
  • Voluntary Benefits - Accident Insurance, Critical Illness, Hospital Indemnity and Legal Services
  • Employee Assistance Program

For your Financial Future

  • Retirement Plan - (Defined Benefit Pension Plan)
  • Deferred Compensation Plan (457 Plan or Roth Plan)

For your Work/Life Balance

  • 12 paid holidays
  • Floating Holidays
  • Vacation and sick leave accrual
  • Vacation purchase program
  • Management Paid Leave**
  • Catastrophic Sick Leave
  • Group Auto/Home Insurance
  • Pet Insurance
  • Commuter Benefits Program
  • Guaranteed Ride Home
  • Employee Wellness Program (e.g. At Work Fitness, Incentive Based Programs, Gym Membership Discounts)
  • Employee Discount Program (e.g. theme parks, cell phone, etc.)
  • Child Care Resources
  • 1st United Services Credit Union 

*Eligibility is determined by Alameda County and offerings may vary by collective bargaining agreement.  This provides a brief summary of the benefits offered and can be subject to change.

** Non-exempt management employees are entitled to up to three days of management paid leave. Exempt management employees are entitled to up to seven days of management paid leave.

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