SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF/BCN) — The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors has appointed Heather Rogers as the county’s first-ever public defender.

County officials announced the appointment Tuesday, saying Rogers was selected on the strength of her two decades of experience at the law firm Biggam, Christensen and Minsloff, where she serves as a supervising attorney.

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The Board of Supervisors in 2020 decided to establish the new public defender’s office to represent defendants in court who cannot afford to hire an attorney. Before that, Biggam, Christensen and Minsloff had provided that service since 1975.

Board chairman Bruce McPherson called Rogers the right choice.

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“We are confident that she will provide excellent, client-centered services for our indigent defendants, promote equity and inclusion as she develops the office,” he said.

Rogers is a graduate of Stanford Law School and clerked on the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals with Judge M. Margaret McKeown. She serves on the board of the Santa Cruz County Defense Bar and the Santa Cruz County Trial Lawyers Association. She also represents District 2 on the Santa Cruz County Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Commission.

“I’m honored to be chosen to lead this new agency,” Rogers said. “I look forward to putting together a team that provides courageous, compassionate, client-centered defense to reach the best outcomes for our clients in a manner that is consistent with our community’s values.”

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