University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
Title "Papers of Sheldon Portman"
Date Jul 16, 2009
Author Sheldon Portman
Author Institution Santa Clara County Public Defender
External Link
Abstract Sheldon Portman was the Public Defender of Santa Clara County, California, from 1968 to 1986.  The bulk of this collection consists of the papers of Portman's lawsuit against the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, which ensued just before he was dismissed from his position in December of 1986.  In a public budget hearing in mid-1985 Portman claimed that his office was so understaffed that it could not fulfill its constitutional obligation to defend indigent criminals, and therefore was at risk of being sued for legal malpractice. 

The County complied by giving Portman more lawyers, but likewise reprimanded him for his statements, because they were made in a public forum.  Later in 1985 Portman received a very meager pay increase as an additional punishment for his comments.  By December Portman filed suit against the County on the grounds that the County Board of Supervisors
had violated his civil rights by trying to stop him from exercising his First Amendment right to free speech.  The case was finally resolved in 1994.

The collection also contains the papers of Branson v. Winter (1981), a case concerning jail overcrowding, and papers related to the Sentencing Resource Project, a project that sought to use paralegals to develop alternative plans to incarceration in appropriate cases in order to reduce the jail population.  Other materials found in the collection consist of papers
of professional organizations and professional activities in which Portman was involved.
Citation Papers of Sheldon Portman, Georgetown University Law Library

This Resource Relates To
case Branson v. Winter (JC-CA-0014)

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