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Posted on: September 2, 2021

County Appoints a New Public Defender to Lead the Defense Office

Additional Attorneys Join the County Superior Court, Filling Valuable Vacancies


Eugene Marquez has been appointed by the Board of Supervisors as the County Public Defender, effective August 23, 2021. In an ongoing effort to fill attorney vacancies within the County’s legal defense offices, Cochise County also welcomes Brian Molitor, Scott Eckstein, and Justin Gettler to the Legal Defender’s Office.

A Juris Doctor from Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Marquez joins Cochise County with 25 years of legal practice experience, including trial experience, to fill the Public Defender role previously held by County Administrator Richard Karwaczka. Prior to joining Cochise County, Marquez held the position of Deputy Public Defender in Yuma County and has also served as a Judge Pro Tempore for the Maricopa County Superior Court. Diving into his new role, Marquez has already begun leading the interview process in search of a Deputy Public Defender.

In addition to this appointment, the County welcomes the following attorneys to their assigned posts in the Legal Defender Office:

  • Brian Molitor is a part-time dependency attorney in the Sierra Vista office, as of August 23. 
  • Beginning September 7, Scott Eckstein will serve full-time as a criminal attorney alongside part-time attorney Justin Gettler; both will practice in the Bisbee office. 

With the new additions, the Legal Defender’s Office will almost be fully staffed, anticipating a dependency attorney, and with open recruitment for a criminal attorney. 

According to Cochise County Legal Defender, Sara Dent, having additional attorneys onboard will greatly alleviate her team’s need to overload cases and offer much-needed bandwidth for the cases they are currently handling. This will greatly reduce the current reliance on contract attorneys.

“It’ll take us a bit to get up-to-speed, but I’m looking forward to being fully staffed and able to start broadening our services to the community,” says Dent. “My hope is to provide informational workshops on various legal topics, such as quashing a warrant or filing for restoration of rights after conviction. I’d like to either sponsor or partner with existing organizations that work towards helping those coming home from prison or jail, to further provide them and their families with assistance in creating a support system as they transition back into the community,” Dent added. “The ultimate goal is to reduce recidivism and provide tools and resources that aid those individuals from going back to the life that got them into trouble in the first place.”

Superior Court Judge Timothy Dickerson is also optimistic about the positive impact the new additions will have on the broader defense practice within the County Superior Court.

“Our defense attorneys have been spread thin lately, which has made it quite difficult to schedule jury trials and evidentiary hearings on a timely, reasonable basis,” says Dickerson. “I expect to see an improvement over the next couple of months and my hope is, with having the three County defense offices fully staffed, we can get hearings scheduled on a timelier basis.”

Active recruitment played a significant role in the process of filling the attorney posts. In addition to County employment postings and other efforts to find and attract new applicants, the legal defense teams sought out networking opportunities with other Arizona attorneys to ensure the positions would not remain vacant.

According to County Administrator Richard Karwaczka, as a strategic effort approved by the Board of Supervisors, the County has initiated a market salary compensation plan, getting positions 96 percent closer to market value.

The County Administrator has high hopes for the defense offices. “The attorneys selected for these positions are all very well experienced in practicing law and each brings their own unique, vast skill sets that will allow them to jump right into the role,” says Karwaczka. “Although the County will still work with contract private attorneys to handle certain cases, the need will certainly decrease.”

For more information on the Cochise County Public Defender, Legal Defender, and Office of Legal Advocate, you may visit the Cochise County website at https://www.cochise.az.gov/389/Indigent-Defense.

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