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County of Santa Clara Office of the Public Defender

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					County of Santa Clara
Office of the Public Defender



PDO606                                                                                .
                                                                          Prepared by:.Brenda Flagg
                                                                                       Confidential Secretary
                                                                         Reviewed by:.Nancy Brewer
                                                                                      Assistant Public Defender

DATE:            June 8, 2006

TO:              Supervisor.Blanca.Alvarado, Chairperson
                 Supervisor.James T..Beall, Jr., Vice−Chairperson
                 Public Safety & Justice Committee

FROM:

                 Mary J. Greenwood
                 Public Defender

SUBJECT:
                 Volunteer Attorney Program at Public Defender Office.




RECOMMENDED ACTION

Consider recommendations from the Public Defender Office regarding the Volunteer Attorney Program and forward to
the Board of Supervisors for consideration.


FISCAL IMPLICATIONS

There are no direct costs associated with this proposal.




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REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATION

The Public Defender Office (PDO) has developed a plan for a no cost partnership with private law firms to enhance
current PDO representation in complex litigation. The firms would donate attorneys to work with existing PDO staff in
selected cases. This plan would require that the Board of Supervisors delegate authority to Mary J. Greenwood, the
Public Defender, or her designee, to enter into contractual relationships on behalf of the County with private law firms
desiring to provide these volunteer services to the PDO. Delegation of authority would be limited to contracts approved
by County Counsel as to form and legality and would expire on June 15, 2009.


BACKGROUND

The Volunteer Attorney Program is an innovative, no cost solution which addresses the problem of how the PDO can
provide high quality representation to criminal defendants in highly complex litigation such as economic crime cases
with existing attorney staff. It would enhance the service the PDO provides to these clients. The recommended action
also provides an opportunity for large corporate law firms in Santa Clara County to contribute to county government in a
meaningful way by augmenting the delivery of PDO services in complicated, high profile prosecutions.

For several years, the PDO has struggled with how best to provide representation to clients charged in complex litigation
such as economic crime prosecutions because of the unique challenges presented by these cases. Additionally, given the
forecast for continued County fiscal challenges, the PDO has looked for innovative approaches to enhance the service
provided to PDO clients at no cost.

Although the PDO represents clients in complex economic crime cases approximately four times a year, the effective
defense of such cases requires a disproportionate amount of staff time and can monopolize the caseload of an individual
Deputy Public Defender, making it impossible for the attorney to take on other cases. Economic crimes include all
manner of criminal fraud charges such as complex embezzlement, business, securities, tax, investment, or "ponzi
scheme" fraud. These prosecutions require specialized knowledge, training and expertise in areas of accounting, fiscal
management, tax and securities law. Few lawyers in the PDO possess the specialized knowledge necessary to effectively
represent these clients. Additionally, the cases are dense with documents. Many economic crime cases require the
attorney to become familiar with, organize and index thousands of documents, easily monopolizing an attorney's time
for weeks or even months, making it difficult for the attorney to handle more than two or three cases concurrently. In
short, the PDO is not staffed to efficiently represent clients in these matters.

In an effort to improve our ability to process economic crimes more efficiently and expeditiously, and to enhance the
expertise of PDO attorneys practicing in this specialized arena, the PDO sought an opportunity to forge a mutually
beneficial partnership with a private sector law firm that might be willing to volunteer attorney services in exchange for
the trial experience their attorneys would gain by working on assignment with the PDO.

That effort has been successful. With the assistance of the County Counsel, the PDO is finalizing the terms of a
contractual agreement with the law firm of Cooley Godward LLP (Cooley) whereby Cooley will volunteer the services
of an experienced partner and an associate attorney to work together with a Deputy Public Defender under the
supervision of the Special Trials Unit (STU) supervisor, or an Assistant Public Defender on complex economic crime
cases. A "Draft" of the contract currently under consideration is attached. It is anticipated that a successful relationship
with Cooley will pave the way for partnerships with other interested law firms that would benefit the PDO, augment




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existing staff and improve services.

Volunteer attorneys who agree to participate in the program will not receive any form of compensation from the County
or the PDO. Any support personnel, equipment, facilities, office space or supplies extended to the volunteer firm would
be used solely for the purpose of facilitating the firm's work on PDO cases. These resources would be expended by the
PDO in the normal course of complex case litigation in any event.

The only foreseeable fiscal implication resulting from this delegation of authority is the potential for liability in the
unlikely event the volunteer law firm is a named defendant in a lawsuit against the PDO arising from representation of a
PDO client. If it is determined that the volunteer attorney provided representation under the supervision of the PDO and
operated in the course and scope of the volunteer agreement, the County would be obligated to defend and/or indemnify
the firm as it would the PDO and its deputies.

This proposal is a win for the PDO clients, a win for the County and a win for private law firms. It partners government
with the private sector to enhance services, provides trial training to the private bar, and improves the quality
representation for the indigent accused in Santa Clara County − at no cost and little risk to the County.


CONSEQUENCES OF NEGATIVE ACTION

If this proposal is not forwarded to the Board of Supervisors for consideration, there will be no Volunteer Attorney
Program at the PDO.


ATTACHMENTS

      •

      • Draft Voluteer Attorney Services Agreement




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