Public Defender

Office Profile

The San Joaquin County Public Defender was established as a County Department in 1968. Public Defender Miriam Lyell (2016 - present) was preceded by Peter Fox (2008 - 2016), James L. Larsen (2005 - 2008), Gerald L. Gleeson (1991 - 2005), Loren Mandel (1990) and Robert N. Chargin (1968-1989). The office is a major public law office, serving the county's 30 judicial positions in 5 locations, with 39 Attorneys, 13 Investigators and an Administrative Support Staff of 19. Public Defender Attorneys and Staff handle an incoming caseload exceeding 1800 cases per month.

The Public Defender's primary practice areas are:

  • Adult Criminal Defense
  • Juvenile Criminal Defense
  • Child Dependency (focus on parents)
  • Mental Commitment Defense
  • Civil Extension Actions (§ 1026.5, W&I, § 1800 et.seq.)

Public Defender clients are screened by court staff for indigency. County funded legal services are provided only on mandated cases to those who lack the present means to hire private attorneys. Lawyer Referral Service has a contract to handle cases because of conflict of interest (i.e., two individuals are arrested and charged with the same crime) and where understaffing causes Public Defender unavailability.