Sharon Petrosino. Courtesy of Orange County
Sharon Petrosino. Courtesy of Orange County

The Orange County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a contract with Sharon Petrosino, making her appointment as public defender official.

The board voted June 28 to promote the longtime staffer, who held the job on an interim basis since December.

Petrosino, who has spent most of her three-decade law career in the Public Defender’s Office since 1985, has been the boss since Frank Ospino became a judge in December.

“We are placed to welcome Sharon in her new and essential role as a part of Orange County’s criminal justice system,” Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett said. “Sharon has shown true commitment and resolve on behalf of her clients and all of the residents of Orange County.”

Petrosino oversees an office with 399 employees and an annual budget of $74 million. The public defender provides legal services to those who cannot afford an attorney in criminal matters.

County officials considered 36 candidates. Eight of them were interviewed.

The contract supervisors approved today was for $216,362 annually. The total annual compensation when factoring in benefits is $337,050 a year.

Petrosino received a law degree from Southwestern School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University.

Before Ospino left the office, he criticized the county’s move to expand the Office of Independent Review to oversee the Public Defender’s Office as well as the Probation Department, District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff and Social Services Agency.

The union representing the county’s attorneys and the Orange County Employees Association filed a legal challenge to the OIR expansion with the Public Employment Relations Board.

However, since then, county officials have requested a meeting with union leaders to discuss a settlement, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

The board discussed a settlement in closed session today.

–City News Service

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