SAN FRANCISCO Brendon Woods, a career public defender in Oakland, has been tapped to lead the Alameda County public defender's office, replacing the retiring Diane Bellas.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors announced Tuesday that it voted unanimously to promote the senior assistant public defender.
Bellas' No. 2 and a 16-year veteran of the office, Woods was seen as one of the front-runners for the appointment. He said Wednesday he is excited to take on his new role overseeing a staff of 104 lawyers. He takes over Dec. 17.
One of his first orders of business, he said, will be to look into creating a so-called "clean slate" program, in which public defenders help defendants get their criminal records expunged after successful completion of probation.
Bellas, who had the post for more than a decade, surprised the local bar with her sudden retirement announcement last March. Her last day will be Dec. 14. In an interview with The Recorder earlier this year, Bellas said she had encouraged Woods to apply for her job and had chosen the timing of her retirement to provide a "smooth transition" for her successor.
At 42, Woods, a graduate of University of San Francisco School of Law, was among a field of young internal candidates to apply for the job.