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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Executive Constantine appoints Anita Khandelwal to serve as the director of King County Department of Public Defense

Summary

Anita Khandelwal was appointed by Executive Dow Constantine as the director of King County Department of Public Defense. She currently serves as the interim director and previously served as the deputy director of law and policy.

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Anita Khandelwal

Anita Khandelwal

Executive Dow Constantine today appointed Anita Khandelwal to serve as the director of King County Department of Public Defense. She has served as the interim director since July.

Khandelwal was one of three candidates recommended by the Public Defense Advisory Council and received a strong recommendation from a panel of employees who interviewed finalists. Khandelwal’s appointment is subject to approval by the King County Council.

“Anita is the best candidate to lead the Department of Public Defense and the challenging and important work it does every day. I listened to employees and stakeholders who wanted a change at Public Defense, and I am convinced Anita can best fulfill its mission to serve some of the most vulnerable people in our region – people who are personally affected by institutional racism, poverty, mental illness, and marginalization,” said Executive Constantine. “Anita was an important contributor to our Road Map to Zero Youth Detention, and I look forward to further collaborations that will expand opportunity and ensure a more equitable community."

Khandelwal served as the department’s deputy director of law and policy before she was appointed as the interim director. She joined the department in November 2015 and has been practicing law for more than a decade. She earned her law degree from Yale University.

The director of the Department of Public Defense is appointed to a four-year term. The King County Code requires the Executive to appoint one of three candidates recommended by the 11-member Public Defense Advisory Board, a non-governing panel established by county ordinance that advocates for high-quality public defense.

“I am honored and humbled at the opportunity to work on behalf of our clients every day," said Khandelwal. "I’m excited at the prospect of supporting DPD staff in providing high-quality representation and collaborating with the community and other leaders in advocating for a more just and equitable criminal legal system."

The Department of Public Defense last year represented more than 20,000 clients who were charged with crimes or faced certain civil proceedings, such as involuntary commitment or family separation as a result of a dependency case, and could not afford legal representation.

The department has more than 400 employees, including attorneys, investigators, social workers, and paralegals.


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Quotes

Anita is the best candidate to lead the Department of Public Defense and the challenging and important work it does every day. I listened to employees and stakeholders who wanted a change at Public Defense, and I am convinced Anita can best fulfill its mission to serve some of the most vulnerable people in our region – people who are personally affected by institutional racism, poverty, mental illness, and marginalization. Anita was an important contributor to our Road Map to Zero Youth Detention, and I look forward to further collaborations that will expand opportunity and ensure a more equitable community.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

I am honored and humbled at the opportunity to work on behalf of our clients every day. I’m excited at the prospect of supporting DPD staff in providing high-quality representation and collaborating with the community and other leaders in advocating for a more just and equitable criminal legal system.

Anita Khandelwal, appointed Director of King County Department of Public Defense

For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography