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Rob Oldham

Public defender Rob Oldham speaks with one of his clients in 2016. The longtime defense attorney recently retired.

Natrona County’s chief public defender retired abruptly and quietly last month, the latest in an ongoing change across the county’s legal institutions.

Rob Oldham, who has worked as an attorney in the Natrona County public defender’s office nearly 19 years, most recently as supervising attorney, announced his retirement Jan. 15, hours before it was set to take effect.

Oldham told the Star-Tribune on Wednesday his retirement was related to “non-life threatening medical issues.”

This winter, the Natrona County offices of the district attorney, district court clerk and now the public defender all have had changes in leadership. Three attorneys have left the public defender’s office in the new year, including its two most seasoned attorneys.

The departure leaves the office with five attorneys, according to online state bar records.

The office is now helmed by Dylan Rosalez, who has practiced as an assistant public defender since he joined the bar nine years ago. Rosalez described his appointment as an “exciting new challenge.”

Rosalez said Diane Lozano, who leads the state public defender’s office, would determine how to fill the three vacant positions.

Lozano did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment. An assistant in her Cheyenne office said earlier this week she was preparing for trial and unable to speak for this story.

The retirement is the second recent high-profile departure from the office. In December, then-Gov. Matt Mead appointed Kerri Johnson, who spent two decades as a trial attorney in the public defender’s office, to replace outgoing Natrona County District Court Judge Thomas Sullins, who spent more than 20 years a judge.

Johnson joined the bench in early January.

Curtis Cheney also left the office this winter to join the Hot Springs County Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor.

The judicial district’s lead prosecutor and a longtime clerk also retired their positions in January rather than stand for re-election.

Former Natrona County District Attorney Mike Blonigen stepped down after 15 years at the helm of the prosecutor’s office. Dan Itzen replaced him after running for the position unopposed.

Gen Tuma, who served as Natrona County District Court clerk for decades, also retired in January. Anne Volin, Tuma’s chief deputy clerk for 20 years, replaced her.

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Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson

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Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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