The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors formally appointed a veteran county lawyer Tuesday to lead the public defender's office, an agency that employs more than 700 defense attorneys who represent indigent defendants in criminal court.
The appointment of Assistant Public Defender Ronald L. Brown to the $270,000-a-year position marks the first time an African American will run the office, which has an annual budget of about $178 million.
Brown said in a recent interview that his biggest challenge will be dealing with the financial difficulties facing the county. He said budget woes have left his agency unable to hire new attorneys or make promotions for more than a year, hurting employee morale.
"You hate to talk about money…but it's bad," he said.
In a memo to supervisors recommending Brown, county Chief Executive William T Fujioka cited Brown's "extensive experience in the field of public sector legal defense and executive-level management."