New leadership

Morris-Green must navigate cuts, morale
Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/16/2011 09:26:21 PM PST

Phyllis Morris-Green has dived right into her new responsibilities as San Bernardino County’s interim public defender after the forced resignations of Public Defender Doreen Boxer and Assistant Public Defender Lauri Ferguson on Dec. 14.

The 52-year-old Apple Valley resident and San Bernardino County native has been with the office for 27 years this month.

With a disarming demeanor and a wealth of experience and education, she plans to form a committee to draft new vision and values statements for the office, review policies and procedures and implement new ones if necessary to ensure that the 233 employees in the office, 123 of them attorneys, are working efficiently and with minimal stress.

She bore witness to the plummeting morale in the office during the reign of Boxer and Ferguson, and now hopes to change all of that while grappling with bulging case backloads. (Each deputy public defender handles between 400 and 422 cases on average a year – nearly double the American Bar Association’s ideal average of 250.)

The affable Morris-Green recently took time to sit down and share her ideas and insights on turning around an office long plagued by disharmony.

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