Longtime defense attorney appointed Merced County Public Defender

After more than a year of not having a permanent leader in an office that represents a majority of Merced County defendants in court proceedings, the Merced County Board of Supervisors has approved a new public defender.

Vincent Andrade, 52, was promoted as new Merced County public defender on Oct. 22.

The attorneys staffed with the public defender’s office represent indigent clients in court proceedings.

A 20-year veteran attorney in the Public Defender’s Office, Andrade said his many years of experience have prepared him to lead the office.

“I have good knowledge about the history and culture at this office,” Andrade said. “I have a strong commitment to lead.”

Andrade worked his way up from a deputy position to the chief deputy position before becoming the interim public defender after former Public Defender Dave Elgin abruptly retired last year.

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The Merced County Board of Supervisors approved the promotion of Vincent Andrade to the Merced County Public Defender position on Oct. 22, 2019. Andrade is pictured here in his office on Nov. 1, 2019. Vikaas Shanker vshanker@mercedsunstar.com

He wants to focus on being responsible to taxpayers while improving department efficiency and taking advantage of technology.

That means improving upon the relatively new case management system, and possibly incorporating a department intranet to streamline communication between attorneys.

Additionally, Andrade said he wants to foster important connections and relationships with other county agencies like the District Attorney’s Office, Probation Department and the Sheriff’s Office.

Along with implementing changes to the office, Andrade said he’ll also continue handling cases, including arraignments and probation/parole violations.

Andrade’s annual salary in the public defender role is $189,092.

Vikaas Shanker is an award-winning reporter covering education, crime and courts for the Merced Sun-Star and Los Banos Enterprise. After growing up in Naperville, Illinois and graduating from the University of Kansas, he reported in several Chicago suburbs before moving to Merced County in 2016.