Philosophy of Service
The Office of the Alternate Defender endeavors to provide vigorous, high quality representation to our indigent clients in the criminal and civil courts of Santa Clara County in an ethical manner. This robust advocacy is extended to all of our clients without regard to the nature or notoriety of their case or charge. While members of the private bar may decline to undertake representation in a particular instance, it is the duty of the Alternate Defender to assume the defense of all individuals who qualify financially for our mandated services, i.e., those who cannot afford to hire their own attorney.
The Office of the Alternate Defender is proud to have a client-centered practice where we give voice to those whose voices have been silenced by poverty. Public Defender employees treat clients with respect and dignity.
Members of the office must respond to requests for representation immediately, without regard to inconvenience. They must fully explain the pending proceeding and the rights of their clients, diligently and vigorously protect the constitutional rights of their clients at all stages of the proceeding, look for explanations or mitigating factors, investigate their clients' stated defenses without judgment of the merits, and endeavor to see that bail is not excessive and, if possible, obtain releases without bail.
Since its creation, the Office of the Alternate Defender has proudly represented clients with a stringent adherence to ethical practice. Members of the office will maintain loyalty to our clients and maintain inviolate their clients' confidences. Decisions regarding office policy as well as individual case strategy must always be evaluated with both the client's interests and the duty of ethical practice in mind. While members of the office should never prejudge a case and should be completely loyal to the client's position, they must advise the client truthfully regarding the possible and probable outcomes of the client's case. They should not knowingly aid in a contrived defense or present perjured evidence. At the same time, they should insist on every fair legal advantage, even if it protects an admittedly guilty person. By doing so, members of the office advance the interests of their client, providing needed balance in the criminal justice system and the vindication of the constitutions of the United States and of the State of California.
No member of the Office of the Alternate Defender should ever accept a gift, realize a profit, or gain a personal advantage connected with the business of the office. Whenever possible, members of the Office of the Alternate Defender should advance the professional reputation of the office, and promote good will for the County government of which they are a part. They are encouraged to participate in professional and community affairs.
The Office of the Alternate Defender is honored to be a part of the collaborative court and criminal justice system in Santa Clara County. The Alternate Defender is committed to effective defense work, committed to representation of clients in juvenile delinquency court, and determined to provide vertical representation whenever possible within our staffing capabilities.