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.