Last week, the Los Angeles County board of supervisors unanimously voted to approve Nicole Davis Tinkham as the interim head of the public defender’s office, amidst criticism that she doesn’t have the experience necessary for the job.
The Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office is the oldest in the country and hasn’t had a leader for over a year. Deputy public defenders represent various clients who can’t afford lawyers. In a letter to the Public Defender’s office employees, Supervisor Kuehl said that Tinkham would bring stability to the office.
Critics of the appointment, including the ACLU of Southern California, have said that Tinkham has no experience in criminal law and had in the past defended law enforcement officers. A protest against the appointment will be held on Feb. 12 at the Criminal Courts Building in Downtown L.A.
Does Tinkham’s lack of criminal law experience disqualify her from being the interim head of the public defender’s office? What is the Board of supervisors’ reasoning for the appointment?
Frank Stoltze, KPCC correspondent who covers criminal justice and public safety issues
Stanley Goldman, tenured professor of law at Loyola Law School where he teaches criminal law and procedure and former deputy public defender for Los Angeles County in the Downtown Los Angeles office
Peter Eliasberg, chief counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California