Public Defender (#HL1200)
$107.17-$130.26 Hourly / $18,575.89-$22,579.11 Monthly / $222,910.68-$270,949.33 Yearly


Under policy direction from the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, and in coordination with the County Administrator, directs and administers the operations of the Public Defender’s Office.


The Public Defender is a single-position, at-will class that is exempt from the San Joaquin County Civil Service System. The incumbent is responsible for leading, managing and administering the programs, functions, budgets, operations and staff of the Public Defender’s Office and for participating in the preparation and defense of a variety of criminal and civil matters. The incumbent ensures that assigned programs and operations comply with all applicable laws and regulations, as well as with policies established by the Board of Supervisors and the County Administrator. The incumbent is expected to model a strong work ethic and leadership skills, including accountability for oneself and others.


This specification is a general guideline for the class. The statements below are not restrictive, and the responsibilities and duties assigned to a position in this class may expand beyond those identified in this specification.

  • Plans, organizes and directs the programs, functions, budgets, operations, and staff of the Public Defender’s Office; directs operations to maximize efficiency, improve service levels, reduce administrative and service provision costs, and ensure effective utilization of available resources; exercises good judgment and makes sound business decisions in managing activities; provides strategic leadership through communication, demonstration, and accomplishment of the organizational mission, vision, and values. 
  • Through subordinate managers and supervisors, manages the work activities and responsibilities assigned to staff; directs and administers personnel matters, including employee selection, assignment, and evaluation; directs disciplinary actions if needed; directs and oversees staff development and training. 
  • Directs the development and administration of the budget for the Public Defender’s Office; determines appropriate levels of customer service; analyzes services to ensure cost effectiveness and superior customer service; confers with management staff to develop workload standards and direct operational changes as needed. 
  • Directs staff in preparing cases and representing clients in criminal and civil matters in both court and jury trials and hearings, including criminal defense, parole and post-release supervision violations, juvenile delinquency and dependency, mental health, probate, adoption, civil contempt and termination of parental rights; advises subordinate attorneys in the preparation of cases and defense of clients; serves as resource person for other attorneys. 
  • Directs staff in the most difficult plea bargaining matters; confers with prosecution attorneys, probation authorities, and court officials to discuss pleas, modification of changes, presentation and review of evidence, and other legal matters; participates in mediation hearings to resolve legal problems without further court action. 
  • Directs staff in recommending cases that should be appealed; directs the preparation and presentation of appealed cases. 
  • Attends meetings and conferences and represents the office of the Public Defender; provides information on matters germane to areas of assignment; participates on committees and task forces; develops and maintains cooperative and collaborative working relationships with federal, state and county officials, the courts, community groups and the public; meets and confers with various agents to negotiate effective solutions to difficult problems. 
  • Within the Public Defender’s Office, directs and manages the effective development and utilization of technology to improve systems and processes. P
  • erforms related work as assigned.



Experience: Seven years of senior-level managerial attorney experience, including five years in the practice of criminal defense in a public agency setting. 


Special Requirement: Membership in the California State Bar.


The principles and practices of criminal and civil law and their application; judicial procedures and the rules of evidence; principles, methods, materials and practices of legal research; principles and practices of public administration, including effective organization, administration, fiscal management, and supervision; state and local laws and ordinances; social, political and economic issues influencing program administration; modern office automation technology and computer software relevant to assigned operations.


Plan and direct the operations and programs associated with a public agency criminal defense office in a cost-effective manner while also ensuring excellent customer service; provide appropriate and effective leadership and management over diverse staff teams, including subordinate managers and supervisors; exercise independent judgment, initiative and discretion and make sound managerial decisions; exercise analytical and critical thinking to analyze complex factual legal problems and recommend solutions; communicate effectively, both orally and in writing; prepare and deliver thorough and comprehensive written documents; give oral presentations to groups; direct the utilization of complex automated systems and manage local area automation efforts, including the direction of systems development, maintenance, and operation; establish and maintain effective working relationships with those contacted in the course of the work, including other County departments, courts, external agencies, employees, and the general public.


Mobility—frequent sitting for long periods; frequent walking; occasional standing, pushing, pulling, bending, squatting, climbing stairs; frequent operation of a data entry device; Lifting—frequently 5 pounds or less; occasionally 5 to 30 pounds; Visual—constant good overall vision and reading/close-up work; frequent color perception and use of eye/hand coordination; occasional use of depth perception and peripheral vision; Hearing/Talking—frequent hearing of normal speech, hearing/talking on the telephone, talking in person; Dexterity—frequent use of normal dexterity with frequent writing and repetitive motion; Emotional/Psychological—frequent decision-making, concentration, and public contact; Special Requirements—may occasionally require working nights and weekends; Environmental—frequent work in an indoor office environment; occasional exposure to varied weather conditions.

San Joaquin County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and, upon request, will consider reasonable accommodations to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential job functions.

CLASS: HL1200; EST: 12/15/2015;