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ACLU SoCal Communications & Media Advocacy, 213-977-5252, communications@aclusocal.org

January 29, 2018

Nicole Davis Tinkham is not qualified for this crucial post

LOS ANGELES — Please attribute the following statement to Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California, in regards to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors' recent appointment of Nicole Davis Tinkham as interim chief of the L.A. County Public Defender Office:

"The ACLU of Southern California stands with government officials, community leaders, legal experts and hundreds of public defenders in questioning the appointment of Nicole Davis Tinkham as interim chief of the Los Angeles County Public Defender office. That office — the oldest and largest of its kind in the nation — provides legal representation to hundreds-of-thousands of people a year who can't afford to hire attorneys when facing criminal charges.

"The right to an attorney in criminal court is a linchpin of our democracy, yet there is nothing in Tinkham's history as a lawyer that demonstrates her suitability for this crucial post. Indeed, just the opposite in that she has represented the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department — the very entity that arrests a huge portion of the people who end up in criminal court and testifies against them.

"She has no experience as a public defender; in fact she has no experience at all in criminal defense. In addition, she has never run a large-scale legal office, let alone a major public entity. No wonder that nearly 400 of the 650 attorneys in the public defender's office signed a letter questioning Tinkham's qualifications for the job.

"We at the ACLU will be monitoring her interim tenure at the public defender's office, and we strongly urge the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to bring far more transparency to the process of choosing a permanent chief. Too many lives are in the balance to do it any other way."

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