Pima County Logo
  • Legal Defender

    The Pima County Legal Defender’s Office represents indigent individuals upon court appointment in all felony cases, direct appeal and Rule 32 post-conviction matters, and extradition hearings. Individuals charged with criminal offenses which occur within the boundaries of Pima County may also be assigned to either the Pima County Public Defender's Office or to the Office of Court Appointed Counsel.

    About Us

    The Legal Defender's Office was established in 1987 by the Pima County Board of Supervisors to defend those accused of felony criminal offenses that, for reason of conflict of interest, prior representation, or overload, the Pima County Public Defender’s Office cannot handle. Like the Public Defender’s Office, we represent adult individuals who are entitled to court-appointed counsel for felony offenses (or juveniles whose cases are transferred to adult court), criminal appeals, and other types of post-conviction relief matters. In representing its clients, the Legal Defender’s Office provides full-range legal representation that includes client visitation if the client is in-custody and appointments if the client is out-of-custody; pre-trial work (for example: preparation of various legal motions depending on the client’s and the case’s particular situation, follow-up court appearances to argue those motions, witness interviews, and case investigation); negotiation of plea agreements; trials; sentencing hearings; fugitive warrant proceedings; direct appeals and other post-conviction relief; and assistance with other aspects of felony case representation (modifications to probation conditions, reinstatement of civil rights, and other proceedings).


    Our mission is to provide highly competent and effective legal representation for individuals accused of criminal offenses in cases brought before the Pima County Superior Court or Arizona Appeals Courts, to insure the protection of our clients’ state and federal constitutional rights, including the right to liberty, effective representation, and due process throughout the criminal proceedings.

    To fulfill our mission, we not only have well-trained and experienced attorneys, but also well-trained and experienced investigators, paralegals, mitigation specialists, secretaries, office support specialists, legal research clerks, transcribers, and interns.

    Our Attorneys

    Isabel Garcia Legal Defender
    Joy Athena Chief Deputy
    Barry Baker-Sipe Felony Trial Attorney
    Joel Chorny Felony Trial Attorney
    Jordan Cohen Felony Trial Attorney 
    Suzanne Crawford Felony Trial Attorney
    Paul Eckerstrom Felony Trial Attorney
    Eric Erickson Felony Trial Attorney
    Vince Frey Felony Trial Attorney
    James Fullin Felony Trial Attorney
    Peter Herberg Felony Trial Attorney & DUI Team
    Alex Heveri Felony Appeals Attorney
    Robb Holmes Felony Appeals Supervisor
    Dmitry Kashtelyan Felony Trial Attorney & DUI Team 
    Jeffrey Kautenburger Felony Trial Attorney & DUI Team
    Christine Makielski Felony Trial Attorney
    Scott Martin Felony Appeals Attorney
    Stephan McCaffery Felony Appeals Attorney
    Michelle Metzger Felony Trial Attorney 
    Rachel Stiles Felony Trial Attorney & DUI Team
    Stephanie Swift Felony Trial Attorney & DUI Team
    Mark Ulmer Felony Trial Attorney

    Court appointed cases fall under the following categories:

    • Felony Offense:

      A serious criminal charge that is potentially punishable by a sentence that may range from a year in the state department of corrections up to the imposition of the death penalty, and involve fines up to $150,000 plus surcharges.

    • Appeals/Post-Conviction Relief Proceedings:

      If a jury finds that the defendant is guilty of an offense, the defendant is entitled to a direct appeal, which is brought before the Court of Appeals to review for error. A defendant who had a direct appeal is also entitled to appointed counsel for a Post-Conviction Relief proceeding. A defendant who accepts a plea is only entitled to appointed counsel for two Post-Conviction Relief proceedings.

    • Extradition Proceedings:

      When another state seeks the custody of a person currently in Arizona, the other state must obtain that custody through the Extradition process in which the person is entitled to appointed counsel. The Legal Defender’s Office handles nearly all Extradition proceedings in Pima County. If the person is being supervised under the Interstate Compact, he or she is not entitled to appointed counsel.

    • Probation Revocations:

      If a judge has given the defendant probation instead of prison as punishment for committing an offense, and if the probation officer files a paper in court alleging that the defendant has violated a probation condition, the defendant is entitled to appointed counsel at all proceedings seeking to take away probation, change a condition of that probation, or at a re-sentencing (called a disposition) if the judge finds, or the defendant admits, a violation of probation.

    Does the Legal Defender’s Office handle matters other than criminal cases?

    By statute, the Legal Defender's Office may only handle criminal felony cases and extraditions. For civil matters, please contact Southern Arizona Legal Aid (520) 623-9465 or (800) 248-6789, or Lawyer's Referral Service (520) 623-4625.

    How do I retain the services of an Assistant Legal Defender?

    If the judge determines that a person is financially unable to retain a private attorney, then the judge will appoint the Pima County Legal Defender's Office as the person’s legal representative. This appointment usually happens at the first court appearance, which is called an initial appearance. In the case of a conflict of interest, or where the Legal Defender's Office has reached its maximum caseload, the judge may appoint the Pima County Public Defender's Office or an attorney from the Office of Court Appointed Counsel to represent the defendant rather than the Pima County Legal Defender. The Court also typically orders Legal Defender and Public Defender clients to pay "attorneys fees," usually $400. This money is a token fee and goes into the General Fund and not to the Legal or Public Defender Offices or attorneys.

    What if I am not a resident of Pima County, or not a U.S. citizen?

    We represent individuals whom the court assigns us to represent, including non-Pima County residents and non-U.S. citizens.

    What is the difference between an Assistant Legal Defender and an attorney in the private sector?

    Assistant Legal Defenders are dedicated professionals and are passionate about justice. This is not to say that private attorneys are not also passionate about justice. Private attorneys are paid by the client, whereas Pima County Government pays for the salaries and resources of the Legal Defender's Office. Assistant Legal Defenders specialize in the defense of the criminally accused.

    What kind of value do your clients receive?

    Listed below are the estimated costs to defend a client accused of certain crimes by private attorneys (most private attorneys require a retention fee):
    • Death Penalty-eligible offense - $100,000 and up
    • Class 1 and 2 felony offenses (Fraud-Schemes, Manslaughter, 1st degree murder (non-death penalty), 2nd degree murder, arson of an occupied structure, armed robbery) - $50,000 - $100,000
    • Class 3 and 4 felony offenses (theft of means of transportation (Class 3), robbery without accomplice or weapon (Class 4), forgery (usually a Class 4), prohibited possessor (Class 4) - $12,500 - $25,000
    • Class 5 and 6 felony offenses and DUIs (DUIs can be misdemeanors (which we handle only if they are connected to a felony, like criminal damage) or felonies depending on how many a person has had; if a felony, they are Class 4), harassment (Class 5), and witness tampering (Class 6) and possessing or using marijuana under 2 pounds (Class 6) - $7,500 - $12,000

    Can we answer "quick" legal questions?

    Unless you are a client, we cannot give legal advice or answer legal questions. (But see our Court Process and Your Legal Rights tabs for general information.) If you plan to proceed with your case without an attorney, a law library has the reference material to assist you. There is a Law Library at Pima County Superior Court, 110 W. Congress, 2nd floor, (520) 740-8456, as well as at the University of Arizona College of Law, 1201 E. Speedway, (520) 621-5455.

    Can we recommend an attorney?

    We cannot recommend an attorney. However, if you would like assistance in obtaining an attorney, the Lawyer's Referral Service provides referral assistance. Call (520) 623-4625.

    What happens in the court process?

    For information about the court process, please click on the Tab entitled "The Court Process."

    Understand Your Legal Rights

    What to do if you are stopped by the police:

    • Be calm. Don't Panic. Don't run.
    • Don't hit or resist the police.
    • Be courteous. Getting smart just makes things worse.
    • Show the police your identification, when asked, or give your name, age, and address. Never lie about these facts.
    • You need not say anything else. Anything else you do or say can be used against you in court.

    When stopped in your car by the police:

    • Show your identification or give your name, age, address, car registration, and insurance documentation when asked.
    • You do not need to answer any other questions.
    • If the police want to search the vehicle you have the right to refuse the search. If they begin to search without your permission, do not attempt to stop them.

    What to do when you are arrested:

    • The police can use force if you resist arrest even if you are innocent of any crime. Don't fight being arrested!
    • If the police ask to search you, tell them you are not consenting to a search. You have a right to request not to be searched, but do not try to stop the search.
    • Advise the police that you want to remain silent until you have spoken to a lawyer (and/or your parents if you are a minor). Do not make any verbal and/or sign any written statements to the police before speaking to an attorney.
    • If you cannot afford to pay for a lawyer, you may have the right to a free lawyer.

    What to do when you are taken to the police station:

    • If you are not free to leave, ask to call a lawyer or your parents if you are a minor. You have the right to make a telephone call.
    • Remember at all these times, except when asked to identify yourself, you have the right:
      1. To remain silent.
      2. To have a lawyer and or your parents (if you are a minor) present.


    Our office is committed to providing the highest quality legal representation for our clients. Confidentiality, courtesy and understanding in relationships with our clients, coworkers, and the courts are a major part of our service.

    Legal Resources in Pima County

    Follow UsShare this page
    Legal Defender

    Isabel G. Garcia

    32 North Stone Avenue, Suite 800
    Tucson, AZ 85701

    Phone: (520) 724-5775
    Fax: (520) 724-7338

    Monday - Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

    Map | Get Directions

    Department Home Page
    Department Directory
    Department Feedback Form