David Joseph Sutton began his legal career with the Marin County Public Defender’s Office, and now he is the choice to lead that department.
County Administrator Matthew Hymel said a nationwide recruitment process concluded with the recommendation of Sutton, who has served as Trial Chief for the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Los Angeles the past two years. The Marin County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to confirm his appointment at its September 14 meeting.
Sutton replaces Jose Varela, who retired in March after 11 years leading the department. Sutton’s first day on the job is October 4.
In Los Angeles, Sutton – who spent part of his youth in San Francisco – supervised all the office’s trial staff and provided strategic guidance on key litigation issues. While managing a heavy caseload, he was the lead case conflict analyst, addressed personnel issues, and mentored other attorneys. Sutton, who had a one-year stint with a private firm as well, spent a year and half as a supervising trial deputy and deputy federal public defender after joining the Federal Public Defender Office’s staff in 2010.
“David rose to the top of a very competitive group of applicants,” said Mathew Hymel, County Administrator. “We are confident that he will lead the office consistent with our values of community involvement, collaboration, and excellent client representation.”
Sutton has strong local ties. He grew up with a single mother in San Francisco’s Western Addition prior to relocating to Riverside to live with an uncle who worked as a police officer. Sutton became an inspired student after being exposed to a no-nonsense outlook and new understanding of the value of discipline. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from San Francisco State University and JD from the University of San Francisco Law School.
While at USF, Sutton interned with the Marin County Public Defender for three years and returned as an extra-hire deputy public defender after passing the bar in 2008 and clerking with the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office.
“Knowing the organization and the excellent quality of legal services that it provides to the community were big attractions for me,” Sutton said. “I will be a proud steward of an excellent organization and build off the strong foundation that already exists. It’s also extremely exciting to join an office dedicated to holistic, high-quality, client-centered representation during the larger shift toward restorative justice in recent years.”
Sutton will lead a legal team of 36.15 full-time equivalent staff positions and manage an annual budget of $6.4 million. His annual salary will be $225,867 with benefits consistent with those received by other department heads.