Local News

Tuesday, Aug 07 2012 06:47 PM

County's top public defender announces retirement

BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Kern County Public Defender Arthur R. Titus has announced his retirement effective Oct. 6.

"I've had 31 really fabulous years with the county and I think it's time to turn over the reins to someone else," Titus said Tuesday evening.

Titus, 66, said he looks forward to enjoying quality time with his family. He was appointed Public Defender in October 2009.

While a successor has not been named -- that's up to the county Board of Supervisors -- Titus said he can't think of anyone better than Chief Assistant Public Defender Konrad Moore. He said Moore had done an excellent job, is adept at public presentations, has the trust of the board and is a very honest person.

Titus, in fact, said he attributes his accomplishments as Public Defender to the management team surrounding him. He described the Public Defender's office as a "lean, efficient, trustworthy, no-nonsense office" whose attorneys often work well beyond an eight-hour day.

"I would say my main accomplishment has been to hire the best-qualified attorneys and to watch them grow as they've undertaken the very particular public service of the defense of the people who need it most," Titus said.

He had originally retired Friday, but decided Tuesday to wait until Oct. 6 to allow more time for a smooth transition.

Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green said she's had an excellent working relationship with Titus and she's sad to see him go.

"We may not always see eye to eye, but we're able to talk about issues of common importance," she said.

Green said Titus had reached out to her before she took office and told her he wanted to keep the lines of communication open between their respective offices. And he's held to that during her time as the top prosecutor, she said.

Certain attorneys affect a jovial demeanor in the courtroom. That wasn't Titus' style when he defended a client.

Green described him as always very serious and very well-prepared.

"It was a serious responsibility on his part and he approached it that way," she said.

Michael C. Lukehart worked in the Public Defender's office from 1982 to 2008 before going into private practice. He said Titus was his supervisor during some of the most difficult capital cases he handled, and he always found him to be a solid resource and someone who could be counted on for an honest perspective.

"I've valued his friendship," Lukehart said.

Titus is a "detail man," according to Lukehart, someone who can never know enough about a problem and has the capacity to keep working through an issue. And he's always kept close counsel, Lukehart said.

Titus, who said he loves the outdoors, said he won't be short on things to do once he's left office. But he wants people to know that the office will continue to be mindful of the public's money and the service they've taken on.

"I'm very proud of this office," Titus said. "The public should be very proud of this office."

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