Henry Coker. Photo via sandiegocounty.gov

Public Defender Henry Coker said Tuesday he plans to retire March 30 after nearly three decades of service with the county of San Diego.

Coker, 66, said the time has come for him to switch gears, after a fulfilling career with the county that dates to 1989. He said he plans on spending more time with his children and playing lots of tennis.

Coker has served as the county’s top public defender since 2009, managing a staff of 365 employees working out of 12 offices.

“Being the public defender of San Diego County has been the highest privilege of my life,” Coker said. “Working with the staff here, the law enforcement community, the district attorney, chief probation officer, Superior Court and the people we represent … It’s an enormous responsibility, but it’s extremely satisfying.”

The Public Defender’s Office is one of the largest legal operations in the region, representing more than 90 percent of those criminally charged in San Diego County.

The county expects to identify Coker’s replacement before his last day.

Coker’s announcement comes two weeks after District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced she would not seek re-election in 2018. The two had a good working relationship and Coker even endorsed Dumanis in her failed bid for mayor of San Diego in 2012.

— City News Service

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