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 Santa Barbara County Public Defender's Office is to protect and defend the rights of our clients through legal representation of the highest quality, with a fair and unbiased system of justice. Regardless of one's economic status in society, all should have access to competent defense representation in criminal prosecutions.
As public employees and representatives of the County of Santa Barbara, we value Integrity, Respect for our Customers and Each Other, a Strong Work Ethic and a Safe Environment.