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SAN JOSE — Santa Clara County’s chief assistant public defender will retire from the No. 2 spot in the office next year. David Mann said late last week that he would be leaving the office in March. He said the PD is looking for a replacement and will likely name his successor in early 2005. Mann, 58, said he has been “toying with [retirement] for some time, for the last three or four months.” But he downplayed the significance of his departure, although he is second-in-command in an office of more than 100 attorneys. “I’m not that big of a celebrity,” he joked. Mann has spent his entire 31-year legal career in the public defender’s office, working his way up from misdemeanor trials to management. Mann, who has been chief assistant for the last six years, said he will miss the work. “The office is in capable hands, but I’ll miss the spirit and camaraderie of people I’ve worked with for many, many years,” he said. Mann’s departure is the latest defection from the office, which lost two top assistants this spring. Ronald Norman and Grant Armstrong, who had a combined 70 years as both trial lawyers and managers in the office, also retired. They were replaced by Assistant Public Defenders Nona Klippen and Jose Guzman, who report directly to Mann. It was not immediately known if Klippen or Guzman would vie for Mann’s job, which pays $193,000 a year. Public Defender Jose Villarreal was away for the holidays and could not be reached for comment. Klippen was also away, and Guzman could not be reached. The office recently held a retreat to deal with excessive work and longer hours caused by jobs left open due to state budget cuts. Prior to becoming chief assistant, Mann supervised felony trials. He was instrumental in pushing for additional funding for the office roughly a decade ago when it became strained by the work from new Three Strikes cases. Mann is a graduate of Stanford University and Stanford Law School. He said he would use the extra time to “travel and improve my golf game.” Asked if he would practice law elsewhere, Mann said, “That’s up in the air at this point.”

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