Cuauhtemoc Ortega, Federal Public Defender

The Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Central District of California has been representing indigent clients charged with federal crimes since 1971.  The Central District of California encompasses seven counties (Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo) and has a population of over 19 million people.  We have the largest office in the national federal defender system, with offices in Los Angeles, Santa Ana, and Riverside that serve the federal courthouses in each location.

We represent the vast majority of people charged with federal crimes in the Central District.  Our representation starts from the day of arrest through the resolution of the case by trial or plea and in the event of sentencing.  After sentencing, we continue to represent our clients on appeal before the Ninth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court, and again should there be alleged probation or supervised release violations.

Our capital habeas unit represents people who have been sentenced to death by state court juries from within the Central District, and whose convictions have proceeded through the state court appellate process and are now before the federal court on claims involving federal constitutional violations.  Our Non-Capital Habeas Unit represents petitioners in non-capital habeas proceedings who allege that their state convictions are invalid due to federal constitutional violations.

When our Los Angeles office opened in 1971, it consisted of a small group of lawyers and support staff who occupied the 15th floor of the original United States Courthouse building at 312 North Spring Street in Los Angeles.  Today, under Federal Public Defender Cuauhtemoc Ortega, the office has over 200 employees, including approximately 83 attorneys, 22 paralegals, 31 investigators, and more than 70 supporting staff members.