USD School of Law Alumnus and County of San Diego Public Defender Paul Rodriguez ʼ99 (JD) Featured in San Diego Union-Tribune

Rodriguez ʼ99 (JD) inherits an office in turmoil and in need of a deputy chief

Paul Rodriguez ’99 (JD)Paul Rodriguez ’99 (JD), Photo Credit: Alejandro Tamayo/San Diego Union-Tribune

SAN DIEGO (February 1, 2024) - In his first month as the County of San Diego Public Defender, University of San Diego (USD) School of Law alumnus Paul Rodriguez ʼ99 (JD) has inherited an office that finds itself in turmoil and in need of a deputy chief for the largest of the four divisions that he leads, the Primary Public Defender.

Rodriguez joined the Public Defender Office as an intern before graduating from USD School of Law. Born in Santiago, Chile, he was driven to public defense work by a sense of fairness. “I just had this sense of fairness as I grew up that everyone needed to be treated fairly,” Rodriguez told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“People are born to poverty, terrible circumstances, they suffer great abuse, mistreatment by the people closest to them. I wanted to be a voice for people who perhaps had not yet been able to express their own voices.” In 2000, Rodriguez was an entry-level deputy public defender, and in 2014, he ran the El Cajon branch office with over 50 employees.

Now, Rodriguez runs an extremely busy office, which is essentially the second biggest law firm in the region, with nearly 550 employees representing nine out of every ten criminal defendants. He is encouraging internal personnel to apply for the chief deputy public defender position to replace outgoing Kate Braner, who is pursuing new opportunities.

Read the full San Diego Union-Tribune article (subscription required).

About the University of San Diego School of Law

Each year, USD educates approximately 800 Juris Doctor and graduate law students from throughout the United States and around the world. The law school is best known for its offerings in the areas of business and corporate law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, public interest law and taxation.

USD School of Law is one of the 84 law schools elected to the Order of the Coif, a national honor society for law school graduates. The law school’s faculty is a strong group of outstanding scholars and teachers with national and international reputations and currently ranks 30th nationally among U.S. law faculties in scholarly impact and 41st nationally in past-year faculty downloads on the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949.


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