In December 2012, Brendon Woods was appointed Public Defender of Alameda County. His appointment happened to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the historic Supreme Court ruling in the case of Gideon vs. Wainwright. In Gideon, the Court held that an attorney must be appointed to represent an indigent defendant in a criminal felony case.
Although the first public defender office opened in California in 1914, indigent defendants throughout the country routinely faced the government without legal counsel. Indeed, Clarence Gideon represented himself at his first trial, where he was convicted. After asking the judge to appoint him a lawyer, he then wrote his own petition to the Supreme Court. Gideon was granted a second trial and appointed a public defender. The jury acquitted him after deliberating for one hour. Gideon’s efforts ultimately led to the establishment of the right to counsel for all defendants, juvenile or adult, facing a loss of liberty.
In honor of Clarence Gideon’s courage and determination, the Public Defender assembled a team of public defenders of all levels to establish a new office mission statement describing the ways in which our experienced and committed legal counsel serve our clients.
The Mission of the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office is to zealously protect and defend the rights of our clients through compassionate and inspired legal representation of the highest quality, in pursuit of a fair and unbiased system of justice for all.
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