Public Defender

Job Specifications

Class Code: JG9

Analyst: SC


Date Originated:


Date Revised:



The Public Defender serves as chief counsel and advisor for any person who is not financially able to employ counsel and who is charged with an offense triable in the Santa Cruz County Superior Court. The Public Defender is responsible for the overall administration and management of the Public Defender’s operations, functions, program activities, staff, budget, and for participating in the preparation and defense of criminal and civil matters. The incumbent works independently  under administrative oversight from the Board of Supervisors, the County Administrative Officer or designee, and federal, state and county laws, regulations, and ordinances.


The office of the Public Defender is a single  class position exempt from civil service and appointed by the Board of Supervisors (per California Government Code Section 27702) and serves at their pleasure as the department head. The responsibilities of this position require comprehensive knowledge and expertise in legal defense counseling, criminal and related civil laws and procedures, a high level of initiative, independent judgment, discretion, as well as strong leadership skills to develop administer and direct the staff and departmental programs in cooperation with other County departments, criminal justice, and other agencies .


Legal Responsibilities



Management Responsibilities




Thorough knowledge:


Considerable knowledge:


Ability to:



Any combination of training and experience, which would provide the required knowledge and abilities, is qualifying. A typical way to obtain these knowledge and abilities would be:

Graduation from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association with a Juris Doctorate degree.




Ten years of increasingly responsible legal experience with emphasis upon the preparation and trial of felony cases including three years of experience in the supervision of attorneys. Incumbent must be a practicing attorney in all the courts of the State for at least the year preceding the date of appointment (per CA Government Code Section -27701) .

Budgetary and administrative experience is also highly desirable.

License: Current active membership in the California State Bar. Possession of a valid driver's license.


*Any license, certification, or registration required for this position shall be maintained (i.e. active and in good standing) at all times during employment with Santa Cruz County.  For continued employment with Santa Cruz County, you must maintain such license, certification, or registration to meet the minimum qualifications of this position.*

Special Requirements:
Fingerprinting and successful completion of a background investigation.

Bargaining Unit: 04
EEOC Category: 01
Occupational Grouping: 87
Workers’ Comp Code: 0053