Thursday, February 22 , 2018, 4:47 pm | Fair 59º


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Public Defender Named Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge

Raimundo J. Montes De Oca will fill seat made vacant by Frank Ochoa's retirement

Chief Public Defender Raimundo J. Montes De Oca has been named to the Santa Barbara Superior Court bench, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Frank Ochoa.
Chief Public Defender Raimundo J. Montes De Oca has been named to the Santa Barbara Superior Court bench, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Frank Ochoa. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk file photo)

Raimundo J. Montes De Oca, who heads the Public Defender’s Office in Santa Barbara County, has been named to the Superior Court bench, it was announced Tuesday by the governor’s office.

Montes De Oca, 67, a Carpinteria resident, has been with the Public Defender’s Office since 1979, and has served the last four years as chief public defender.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. appointed Montes De Oca to the judgeship that came open earlier this year with the retirement of Frank Ochoa.

Being selected for a judgeship is “both a tremendous honor and a great responsibility,” Montes de Oca told Noozhawk Tuesday evening. “You probably don’t realize the responsibility until you are named. This is a big job.”

He said he's not worried about making the transition from being an advocate for criminal defendants to being an impartial arbiter of the law.

“I think that I shouldn’t have any problem doing that,” he said. “You understand what your role is — to listen and give each side a voice…and then give an opinion of what the law requires.”

Montes De Oca grew up in Carpinteria: "My parents were migrant workers. That was the stop they made when I was an infant."

He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from UC Santa Barbara, and his law degree from the University of Arizona College of Law.

He served as a deputy public defender in Pima County, Arizona, before returning to Santa Barbara.

Montes De Oca said he expects to start his new job in two to three weeks, after wrapping up his duties in the Public Defender's Office.

He also will attend training at the Judicial College in the coming weeks.

Compensation for the position is $189,041.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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