Jacqueline Cooper says she will take lesser job in agency
Jacqueline Cooper announced Friday that she is resigning as the state's chief public defender.
Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Cooper to lead the department in 2011. Before that, Cooper headed the public defender department’s mental health division.
In a statement, Cooper said she will work in a new job in the department -- assistant manager of contract legal services.
Her statement said Deputy Chief Bennett Baur will become acting chief public defender.
Voters in November approved a constitutional amendment to remove the public defender's office from the governor's control.
The Legislature next year must approve an enabling law to create an independent commission to hire the chief public defender.
Cooper cited family reasons for giving up the top job.
“I am extremely proud of the work that we have been able to accomplish to improve our state and the lives of the people of New Mexico. Unfortunately, I must focus on my family and my mother, who is in fragile health right now," she said in her statement.
Martinez, in her second month in office, fired then-chief defender Hugh Dangler. Months later she appointed Cooper.