MARTINEZ (CBS SF/BCN) – The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 Tuesday to confirm the appointment of Ellen McDonnell as the county’s new public defender.

Board chairperson Diane Burgis was absent from the meeting, three days after her husband, Richard Clayton, died by suicide.

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McDonnell has served as interim public defender since Robin Lipetzky announced her retirement in August.

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“Ellen, I’d like to really welcome you and your outstanding resume, but even more importantly, the actions that precede this appointment today,” said District 5 supervisor Federal Glover, who stepped in to run the meeting for Burgis.

McDonnell has been with the Contra Costa office for 20 years, beginning as graduate law clerk and working her way up to chief assistant public defender for two years before taking the top job on an interim basis in August. She has already overseen a $36 million annual budget and a personnel roster of 145 employees.

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McDonnell has a law degree from University of California Hastings College of the Law, and a bachelor’s degree with a double major in Spanish and Italian from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. She has been a member of the California State Bar since 2001.