San Bernardino County Public Defender Christopher Gardner authored an op-ed in the Daily Journal, July 6, 2020, on SBCPD’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read a pdf of the full article here.


The pandemic raises the stakes in serious and conflicting ways. Having our clients locked up during a pandemic, for any amount of time, greatly increases the chance they could become sick and die alone in custody. At the same time, we must protect ourselves and our families. Protecting our clients and staff from exposing one another to a virus is not something we are used to dealing with. Spending time with our clients, engaging in private conversations about their cases and lives, is the best part of the job. It is how we get to know them, and just as importantly, how they get to know and trust us. Finding new methods to develop this important relationship, in and out of the courtroom, while maintaining proper social distancing has been the most pressing challenge facing public defenders during this time. None of us wants to get to the point where we no longer believe we can effectively represent our clients and still protect our staff.

In San Bernardino County, the collaborative nature of the law and justice partners has resulted in creative solutions which, so far, have enabled us to do both. Each justice partner understands that despite having different missions, nothing can be achieved if the criminal courts cease to function. The conversations have not always been smooth, but the strong interconnectedness of the group has enabled us to keep working toward solutions. Fostering these relationships has been critical to our office being able to serve our clients and keep them and our staff as safe as possible.