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UA grad Megan Page selected to lead Pima County public defenders office

In a unanimous vote, the Pima County Board of Supervisors appointed Megan Page to serve as the county’s public defender during a meeting Tuesday morning, replacing Joel Feinman, who announced in March that he is resigning from his post.

For the last 11 years, Page has worked for the Public Defender’s Office, including the last four years as the chief assistant public defender.

Page, 37, received her bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Arizona in 2007, graduating summa cum laude. In 2010, Page received her law degree from the UA’s James E. Rogers College of Law in 2010, also graduating summa cum laude, said Pima County officials.

During law school, she was a clerk for the Tucson office for the Federal Public Defender. After she graduated from the UA, she clerked for Judge Deborah Bernini in Pima County Superior Court.

"I am incredibly honored to be appointed the Pima County public defender," Page said in a statement. "From the time I attended law school, I wanted to be a public defender in order to defend the Constitution and stand up for those who are often cast aside by society."

“I have worked for the Public Defender’s Office for the past 11 years and it has been a humbling and rewarding experience to represent clients, give a voice to their stories and ensure that their rights are upheld," she said.

Feinman served for the last five years after he was appointment by the board of supervisors in April 2017. In memo announcing Feinman's departure, Pima County Administrator Jan Lesher called him "instrumental in ensuring that indigent individuals" have "access to quality, timely, and fair representation.

Feinman said that he was leaving the position to move to Victoria, British Columbia, with his wife. 

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In a statement, Dean Brault, the director of the Pima County’s Public Defense Services, praised Page's tenure for the county.

"Over the course of the last four years as the chief assistant public defender, Megan Page has developed the skills, judgment and experience necessary to effectively lead the Pima County Public Defender’s Office," said Brault. "As the Pima County public defender, she will use her knowledge, temperament and leadership to ensure that indigent clients continue to receive high-quality representation and will advocate for improvements to the criminal-justice system."

Pima County officials said that Page was one of six applicants for the position, who were interviewed by a committee led by Brault. Two people were selected for that pool, and were interviewed by County Administrator Jan Lesher, county officials said.

Last week, Lesher submitted Page's name to the board for approval.

Page said she would prioritize how defendants are represented in "an evolving society," and would work to support the staff at the Public Defender’s Office.

“I want to continue to emphasize a model of holistic defense and further develop our social work and investigation units,” Page said. “I also plan to continue to advocate for systemic change and criminal-justice reform, including treating substance abuse as a mental-health issue rather than a basis for prosecution and incarceration.

"I also want to focus on recruitment and retention of highly qualified employees and promote a more diverse workforce. The attorneys and staff at the Public Defender’s Office have challenging jobs and work tirelessly to ensure that our clients receive exceptional representation," she said. "Making sure they have the training and support necessary to do their jobs each and every day is my top priority."

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Megan Page was appointed as Pima County's public defender by the Board of Supervisors.