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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Brian Morris, Assistant Public Defender - Brian joined the Marin County Public Defender’s Office in 2001 and has tirelessly represented clients on cases ranging from misdemeanors to murder. His passion for the courtroom is enhanced by his innovative spirit and appreciation for new solutions. Brian graduated from the Dominican University Leadership Academy in 2012 and has spent the past several years supervising trial attorneys in both misdemeanor and felony practice. Brian was named Assistant Public Defender in 2015.
Brian enjoys riding his bike to work, playing soccer, and spending time with his family. He is a graduate of the University of Vermont and the University of San Francisco School of Law.
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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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