Editor's Note: Sylvia Perez-MacDonald is a trustee for the SCCBA, the immediate past-Treasurer and will serve on the 2015 Executive Committee of the SCCBA.
Veteran Santa Clara County Trial Attorney to Lead Office
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. - Sylvia Perez-MacDonald has been selected to serve as the Director of the Independent Defense Counsel Office (IDO), succeeding James Gleason, who is retiring after a 30-year career with the County of Santa Clara. Mr. Gleason was the first IDO Director, and successfully implemented and managed the IDO as a separate division of the County Counsel’s Office since 2008.
Since her admission to the State Bar in 1995, Sylvia Perez-MacDonald has devoted her entire legal career to the defense of indigent persons accused of having committed serious crimes. Perez-MacDonald served as a Trial Attorney in the Solano County Office of the Public Defender, as a Trial Attorney in the office of Biggam, Christensen & Minsloff in Santa Cruz County, and since 1997, in a succession of assignments of increasing responsibility in the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender.
During her 17 years with the Santa Clara Public Defender’s Office, Perez-MacDonald served as a Trial Attorney in the Felony Team Unit handling serious felony cases, as a Trial Attorney in the Special Trials Unit where she tried several complex homicide cases, as the Supervising Attorney for both the South County satellite office of the Public Defender and the Juvenile Delinquency Unit. Most recently, Perez-MacDonald held the position of 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 of Santa Clara 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.”
Perez-MacDonald, who is the child of migrant agricultural workers was raised and educated both in the United States and Mexico, has demonstrated a high degree of sensitivity to the needs of the communities served.
“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,” said Perez-MacDonald, who said that she is humbled and honored to be appointed. “I also look forward to working in collaboration with our justice system partners to continuously improve our county’s criminal justice system.” The IDO provides qualified attorneys to represent indigent persons who face criminal prosecution, but cannot be represented by either the Public Defender’s Office or the Alternate Defender’s Office because of conflicts of interest. The IDO Director selects and maintains under contract a panel of criminal defense attorneys who are highly qualified to defend cases involving a full range of criminal charges.
The IDO is a division of the County Counsel’s Office that is both managed and operated separately from the remainder of the Office in order to avoid any possible conflicts between persons represented by IDO and the other departmental clients of the Office.
Perez-MacDonald graduated from Golden Gate University School of Law in 1995 earning a Juris Doctor degree. In 1992, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree from University of California at Davis, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Spanish. She is happily married to Scott MacDonald and has two step children, Leo and Jessica. The IDO Director is paid up to $236,826 annually. Perez-MacDonald will assume her new position on December 8, 2014.