A group that included over 150 public defenders that work for the county of Los Angeles protested on Monday in response the appointment of their new chief. The source of the conflict stems from the fact that many feel the newly hired public defender Nicole Davis Tinkham is not qualified for the position that has been granted to her.
Deputy public defender Alisa Blair has been vocal In expressing her displeasure with the hire points out that Tinkham has not tried one criminal case in her legal career. This, Blair says, would qualify Tinkham for only an entry-level position with the office if ordinary standards were followed.
Some deputy public defenders are also concerned with Tinkham’s past work history of defending sheriff’s deputies working with the county both while involved in private practice and later as an employee working for the Office of the County Counsel. Tinkham’s detractors believe that this history from Tinkham could make It more difficult for public defenders to gain the trust of those they are instructed to defend.
Approximately 390 of the 650 public defenders that work for Los Angeles County added their signatures to a letter that addressed these concerns before the hiring of Tinkham was made final.
Monday’s protest took place at lunchtime on a day that the Los Angeles Superior Court was closed for business. Christine Rodriquez, a Deputy Public Defender that took part in the protests, said this time was chosen in order to avoid any disruption of the work of public defenders.
Brenden Woods, Alameda County Public Defender, was present at the protest and spoke in support of Tinkham’s hiring. Protesters have also gained the support of Jeff Adachi, Public Defender of San Francisco as well as the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.