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Public defender quits, airs grievances


Saying it's been a "pain" working within the Tuolumne County bureaucracy, the county's Public Defender Jerry Osmer has resigned after one year on the job.

Osmer sent his resignation letter to county Administrator C. Brent Wallace the day after Christmas. His resignation is effective March 30, but he told Wallace he would extend his stay if necessary to help the county find a replacement.

In his letter to Wallace, Osmer said his "dealings with budgetary concerns and the county bureaucracy have been difficult, unpleasant and seldom productive."

Osmer said he considers himself a good trial attorney who can handle criminal cases and guide the three other attorneys in his office, but a novice at budget management and the intricacies of county government.

However, Osmer, a former Calaveras County public defender, also blames Wallace's management style for making his job more difficult.

That and the differences between what he, Tuolumne County District Attorney Donald Segerstrom and County Counsel Gregory Oliver are paid were contributing factors to his decision to leave, Osmer said.

"Whenever (Wallace) got a complaint about the Public Defender's office — and as the nature of this office we do get complaints — he would fire off an e-mail to me reprimanding me and the office rather than calling me up and talking things over to see our side of the issue," Osmer said.

Wallace said Tuesday that until Osmer's resignation, Osmer had never voiced unhappiness with his job or with Wallace.

"Everybody who works with Jerry — from the judges to other attorneys to the court staff — is very complimentary of him," Wallace said. "He's been an outstanding advocate for the clients he serves. I find it a puzzle that he is now critical of things that don't sit well with him, but he had never taken steps to correct."

Wallace said Osmer had attended perhaps one of the six or more meetings Wallace held over the last year with other law enforcement officials — the district attorney, chief probation officer and sheriff.

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