About Our Office

Jose H. Varela, Public Defender
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Jose Varela

Jose Varela, Public Defender - Jose is a magna cum laude graduate of Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga. He received his J.D. from the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. While at Boalt, Mr. Varela was awarded the Sowell Fellowship in Labor Law and was the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the La Raza Law Journal. Mr. Varela served as a deputy public defender in Los Angeles and San Diego Counties before joining the Marin County Public Defender's Office in March of 2001. As a trial attorney, Mr. Varela has tried cases ranging from misdemeanors to death penalty cases. He is a current member of the California Public Defender Association's Board of Directors and is a frequent speaker at CPDA training seminars.

Mr. Varela is active on many Marin County steering committees, including Adult Drug Court, Proposition 36 and the County's Strategic Plan Implementation Group.

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David Brown

David I. Brown, Chief Deputy Public Defender - David received his undergraduate degree at Cornell University, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and his law degree from Stanford Law School, where he was an Associate Editor for the Stanford Law Review.

Mr. Brown began his legal career in the Marin Public Defender's Office in 1981. With the exception of brief stints as a Deputy Attorney General in the Federated States of Micronesia, and in private practice, Mr. Brown has spent most of his legal career at the Marin Public Defender's Office. He has tried many cases in the Marin County Courts, including misdemeanors, LPS cases, and felonies, including three strikes, San Quentin, murder, and death penalty cases.

Mr. Brown is active in a number of professional organizations. He presently serves on the Board of Directors of the Marin Bar Association. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of Alternate Defenders, Incorporated, and continues to serve as chairperson of their Peer Review Committee. In 2006, the Marin County Human Rights Commission presented Mr. Brown with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian of the Year Award. He is committed to seeking justice by serving his clients with compassion and professionalism.

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Debra Levya

Debra A. Leyva, Chief Deputy Public Defender - Debra, a Southern California native, moved north to attend both college and law school. She received her degree at Sonoma State University in sociology and she later received her J.D. from the University of San Francisco Law School, where she qualified for the McAuliffe Honor Society.

She began work with Marin County Public Defender in 1982. During her twenty-five years of practice she has represented clients in criminal, juvenile, mental health, misdemeanor and felony cases, including several major felony trials. She has supervised in the felony and misdemeanor units for the past thirteen years.

Ms. Leyva enjoys participating in collaborative service programs such as Drug Court, Mental Health Court, STAR program and the Forensic Multi-Disciplinary Team. She is currently an Adjunct Professor at Hastings which allows her to serve as a mentor to the legal interns and organize the legal intern program in her office. She has dedicated her career to the practice of public criminal defense and considers her compassion for her clients the motivating force in her pursuit of justice.

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