Heather Rogers

Santa Cruz County Public Defender
Home 2103 North Pacific Avenue Santa Cruz CA 95060
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Heather Rogers has been a public defender for nearly 20 years in the state and federal courts. Heather has handled cases at every stage of litigation, from arraignment through trial and appeal. She has represented clients accused of offenses from delinquency to homicide, defended detainees incarcerated at Guantánamo Naval Base in Guantánamo, Cuba, and argued cases in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Heather is honored to serve as the first Public Defender of Santa Cruz County, her birthplace and home. Before her appointment, Heather served as a public defender at Biggam, Christensen & Minsloff, the defense firm that previously provided public defense services for Santa Cruz County.

Heather is a faculty member of the National Criminal Defense College, lecturer in Legal Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and frequent trainer at regional and national trial skills programs. She has also taught at California Western School of Law and Monterey College of Law and volunteers annually to assist with trial advocacy training at Stanford Law School. Heather serves on the Board of Directors of Santa Cruz County’s Housing for Health Partnership Policy Board, Community Corrections Partnership, Criminal Justice Council, Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council, and Trial Lawyers Association. Heather is also a member of the National Association of Public Defense’s (NAPD) Well Being Summit and served as one of 33 criminal defense experts on a Delphi panel convened by the RAND Corporation in 2022 to advise researchers conducting a National Public Defense Workload Study.

Heather clerked for the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals before starting her career in public defense at Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. She also served as a public defender in Monterey County and at the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of California before coming home to Santa Cruz. Heather has an A.B. in English Language & Literature from the University of Chicago, with honors, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School, with distinction. In her free time, Heather enjoys snowboarding, surfing, and hiking with her husband and two daughters.


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