New Director Takes over Office that Pays Shirakawa’s Legal Bills

Sylvia Perez-MacDonald has been promoted to director of the Independent Defense Counsel Office. That's the Santa Clara County agency that foots legal bills for defendants who can't afford attorneys and have conflicts of interest with other available offices—such as "allegedly indigent" ex-Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr.

Perez-McDonald succeeds James Gleason, who's retiring after a three-decade career with the county. Gleason became the county's first IDO director when the office was created as a division of the County Counsel's office in 2008.

Since being admitted to the State Bar in 1995, Perez-MacDonald has dedicated her work to defending indigent clients accused of serious crimes. She served as a trial attorney in the Solano County Office of the Public Defender, the office of Biggam, Christensen & Minsloff in Santa Cruz County and, since 1997, in Santa Clara County's Office of the Public Defender.

Through the public defender's office, Perez-MacDonald tackled complex homicide cases and, most recently, worked as lead attorney in the Misdemeanor Division.

“Perez-MacDonald is a highly accomplished professional who has earned an excellent reputation with her peers, her supervisors, and the judges whom she has appeared before,” said County Counsel Orry Korb. “Both her extensive experience as a supervising attorney and her compelling personal story will serve her well in her new position.”

Born to migrant workers, Perez-MacDonald was raised in both the U.S. and Mexico. Her colleagues say she cares about the communities she serves.

“I look forward to maintaining and enhancing this county’s reputation for excellence in providing effective, consistent and reliable legal representation to this county’s indigent community,” she said. “I also look forward to working in collaboration with our justice system partners to continuously improve our county’s criminal justice system.”

The IDO offers attorneys to clients facing criminal prosecution but can't be represented by the Public Defender's Office or the Alternate Defender's Office because of conflicts of interest.


  1. > The IDO offers attorneys to clients facing criminal prosecution but can’t be represented by the Public Defender’s Office or the Alternate Defender’s Office because of conflicts of interest.

    What the eff is going on?!!!

    We have three — THREE! — taxpayer paid gravy trains to provide legal defense for “defendants who can’t afford attorneys”:

    1) Public Defender’s Office

    2) Alternate Public Defender’s Office

    3) Independent Defense Counsel Office

    Along with Jerry Brown’s Proposition 47, which downgrades felonies to misdemeanors, is any mugger, car thief, burglar, or home invader EVER going to see any legal consequences for their lawlessness?

    • Don’t forget the free translators the taxpayers provide for all the illegals charged with crimes; and the investigators the taxpayers provide for the three agencies that represent the accused, all at the expense of honest working people. And now the county is providing these same free services to hundreds of illegal kids shipped here alone by their parents, who know what suckers our government employs. But there’s not enough money for cops.

    • The County also has a program to help people expunge their records, in order for them to obtain gainful employment and what-not. So, after paying for Law Enforcement, judicial costs of prosecution AND defense, then possibly probation… The County erases the whole process so the poor convict isn’t burdened for their crime. Insanity.

  2. JMO,
    Only in America. Suck it up! Sitting Bull said it best, WE NEED AN ATTORNEY, Here at Little Big Horn! Some body call the cops!
    Custer must be restrained! Here comes the Judge, Here comes the Judge. OOPS! Too Late! No Cops!

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