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County office changes name to Alternate Public Defender's Office
December 27, 2013
County officials hope to start 2014 with a little less confusion for residents. The Conflict Defender’s Office will officially change its name to the Alternate Public Defender’s Office on Wednesday, Jan. 1.
"The new name does a better job of explaining to the public what our office does," said Chief Deputy Public Defender Roberto Najera.
The Alternate Public Defender’s Office provides legal representation for people who cannot afford a lawyer and are unable to be represented by the Public Defender’s Office. This situation generally arises when a case being handled by the Public Defender’s Office involves multiple indigent defendants or there is a prior relationship with a party to the case.
“In legal terms this is called a conflict, and it is one of the ways we ensure everyone in the legal system gets a proper defense,” Najera said.
When the office was established in 1989, this legal term was used to establish the name of the office and the function of the conflict defender. However, the name never resonated with the general public. The office routinely received calls from the public seeking conflict resolution of civil matters. In addition, the name confused clients who thought the office was trying to resolve a conflict in their case.
“We are changing our name to eliminate this unnecessary confusion. With our new name, it is very clear what we do and why we are here. We are an alternative to the Public Defender’s Office,” Najera said.
The staff of 20 lawyers and support staff in the Alternate Public Defender’s Office are located on the third floor of the County Administration Center at 675 Texas St. in Fairfield.