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To Defend and Protect

By Jeanne Deprincen | Oct. 2, 2006

Law Office Management

Oct. 2, 2006

To Defend and Protect

California's newest federal public defenders. By Malaika Costello-Dougherty

By Malaika Costello-Dougherty
      Edited By Martin Lasden
      In a rare changing of the guard, three of California's federal district offices--Eastern, Southern, and Central--now have new public defenders at the helm. At a time when concerns such as due process and civil liberties appear to be taking a back seat to national security issues, how do they view their jobs? Here's a thumbnail sketch of each of them.
      Daniel J. Broderick
      Broderick, 54, has worked in the federal defender's office for the Eastern District of California for 15 years, most recently as the chief assistant to the federal defender. His colleagues like to say he started on the "dark side," in the U.S. Attorney's office in the early 1980s.
      "As a criminal lawyer," he says, "it is far more rewarding to advise and represent individuals who need assistance than to follow the marching orders of an administration that condones torture."
      Recently, when the federal government investigated Muslim citizens in Lodi suspected of terrorism, Broderick's office helped advise the people who were contacted and get them lawyers.
      Broderick's office has an annual budget of $11.7 million.
      Rueben Camper Cahn
      Before becoming the federal defender in California's Southern District, which includes San Diego, Cahn, 47, worked in the Miami office for the Southern District of Florida. Like Broderick, Cahn also went to Yale Law School, edited the Yale Law Journal, and clerked for a federal judge.
      In a district so close to the Mexican border, one of Cahn's main concerns is how drastically the federal government has ramped up its penalties against illegal immigrants since 9/11. His role, he says, is "principally to demand fidelity to the law and the Constitution when those in power would sacrifice these values in the name of fighting terror."
      San Diego in general is known to have one of the best indigent-defense panels in the country, because the defender's office acts as a training ground for young attorneys. Currently, the office is handling a federal indictment resulting from San Diego's municipal pension fund scandal.
      Cahn's office has an annual budget of slightly more than $10 million.
      Sean K. Kennedy
      Before becoming the Central District's federal public defender in Los Angeles, Kennedy, 42, worked as chief of that office's Capital Habeas Unit. A graduate of Loyola Law School, Kennedy has worked in the L.A. office since 1992.
      Kennedy says he's most concerned about the possibility that a provision in the recently revised Patriot Act will radically expedite the federal death penalty process if the U.S. attorney general determines that California cases qualify for fast-track petitions in federal court.
      Kennedy oversees an annual budget of $27 million.

Jeanne Deprincen

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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