VENTURA, Calif. – By a unanimous vote on June 20, the Board of Supervisors accepted the recommendation of County Executive Officer Mike Powers to appoint Todd Howeth as the County’s new Chief Public Defender. He was selected following a national recruitment effort. Howeth is currently serving at the County’s Assistant Public Defender.
“Todd is the right choice to continue the innovative and forward-thinking work the Public Defender’s office is doing. They look for the root causes of issues and then work to turn lives around,” said County Executive Officer Mike Powers. “Todd has a passion for criminal defense and for the rights of the people his office serves.”
Howeth was named to succeed Steve Lipson who retired earlier in June after 31 years of service to the County, the last seven as the Chief Public Defender.
"I have such admiration for the women and men in the Ventura Public Defender’s Office. They provide a tremendous service to our community by guaranteeing equal justice for all, regardless of economic status,” said Howeth. “Day in and day out, they do this with honor, integrity and grace. I could not be more proud of this office."
Howeth received his law degree from the University of Santa Clara and has worked exclusively as a criminal defense attorney since 1984. He is certified by the state of California as a Legal Specialist in Criminal Law and has personally tried more than 100 jury trials, including many high profile homicides, gang cases, sex cases, and capital litigation. He currently supervises the felony trial team, homicide cases and capital cases. Howeth also holds a master’s degree in public administration from the California State University at Northridge.
“The Public Defender’s office serves a vital mission by acting as advocates for people in need and by helping to protect everyone’s Constitutional rights,” said Powers. “Todd will continue to ensure the high quality of the legal representation the office provides and the strong leadership that has made the office so successful.”
The Public Defender’s office was created in 1968. It consists of more than 50 attorneys who are supported by investigators, paralegals and staff. Howeth will begin his new duties on July 2, 2017.