Humboldt County Supes Appoint New Public Defender
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors has hired a new face to lead its troubled Public Defender’s Office. Assistant Public Defender Luke Brownfield was promoted to the job Aug. 17.
“I am very grateful to the Board of Supervisors and the people of Humboldt County for this fantastic opportunity to serve our community,” said Brownfield. “The Public Defender’s Office holds a special place in my heart. Having worked in the office for the last 6 years, I am excited to lead a team of such exceptional attorneys and amazing staff. Having been born and raised in Humboldt, I have a great respect for the work that is done here by so many.”
Brownfield added that he plans “to address the broader social problems that underpin criminal behavior by addressing our clients’ underlying needs in addition to their criminal defense.”
Brownfield has worked on both sides of the justice system. He started out as a defense attorney in Placer County. He then joined the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office, where he led the Child Abuse Services Team (CAST). He’s been with Humboldt's Public Defender’s Office since 2015.
Brownfield will be the county’s fourth Public Defender in the past five years. Marek Reavis retired on July 4 after a prolonged absence that drew questions from the public. The appointment of the previous district attorney, David Marcus, sparked an outcry from the county’s deputy public defenders who claimed he was unqualified.
Brownfield is no stranger to drama either. As the Lost Coast Outpost’s Ryan Burns notes, “Brownfield was listed as an accomplice in an incendiary lawsuit brought by former Deputy Public Defender Rory Kalin, whose suit accuses Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Gregory Elvine-Kreis of using anti-Semitic insults before drunkenly tossing him off a houseboat on Shasta Lake. Elvine-Kreis denies any wrongdoing, and Brownfield has backed him up.”
That drama aside, Brownfield has vowed to bring much needed stability to the office.