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photo credit: Courtesy of Brian Morris
If approved by Sonoma County's board of supervisors next week, the county will have a new public defender. Brian Morris is currently Marin County's assistant public defender, and has been tapped to lead the equivalent department here. Current public defender Kathleen Pozzi is retiring.

Morris would lead a team of 35 lawyers. He told KRCB not to expect big, immediate changes.

"I do like to be inclusive in decision-making," Morris said. "I don't think coming in with a long agenda of things that I want to do is an appropriate way to introduce myself to the office. I want to learn from the people in the office about what's been happening in Sonoma County and in the justice system, and ways that they think things could be improved for both the clients and the office."

Morris, who has served in Marin for two decades, said he is proud he's helped divert some low level offenders from the prison system.

"Having something on your record does affect people's ability to get a job and find housing," Morris said. "And the more and more of those hurdles are placed in front of people in the community, the more and more difficult it becomes for them to succeed."

He sees promise in the concept of restorative justice, and may implement it more broadly, to help both those who commit crimes, and the victims of those crimes. 

"They come to an understanding together of how to resolve the case, and that way people actually can move forward and heal," Morris said. "And the person who caused the trouble in the first place gets a better understanding of the negative impact they may have had on someone."

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