HENRY C. COKER
Henry Coker was born in the West African nation of Sierra Leone, in the capital city of Freetown. Mr. Coker moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1972 to study at North Carolina A&T State University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature in 1976. He received a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration in 1978 from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. He taught English Language Arts and worked as an administrator in the school system. In 1980, he moved to San Diego, California, and went to work for UCSD as a Personal/Labor Relations Analyst.
Mr. Coker attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law and earned a law degree and was admitted to the Bar in 1986. He joined the San Diego County Public Defender’s Office shortly after it was established in 1988. He served in various divisions of the office as a misdemeanor and felony trial attorney. In 1994 he became a Felony Team Supervisor in the Central office. In 1995, he was appointed Chief Deputy in charge of the juvenile division of the office. Mr. Coker handled and tried a number of serious felony cases, including the case of Tony Hicks, the first juvenile to be tried as an adult for murder in the State of California.
Later in 1996, Mr. Coker became Chief Deputy for the Branch Offices, in charge of criminal offices in East County, South Bay and North County, as well as Juvenile Delinquency and Dependency. In 2009, the Board of Supervisors merged the three Public Defender offices: the Primary Public Defender, the Alternate Public Defender, and the Multiple Conflicts Office; it also created the Office of Assigned Counsel. In July of 2009, Mr. Coker was selected by the Board of Supervisors to be the Public Defender and head of all four divisions. Mr. Coker serves on several statewide and local committees and is involved in issues such as efforts to reduce youth substance abuse, crime prevention and awareness and the implementation of Proposition 47. Mr. Coker works closely with members of law enforcement and the District Attorney on programs and policies that contribute to community safety.