CANTON -- St. Lawrence County Legislators have agreed to hire an additional public defender at an operations committee meeting Monday.
According to the resolution approved by the committee, the additional expenses created by the position will be covered through a $299,408 Upstate Quality Improvement and Caseload Reduction Grant.
Should grant funding expire, the position will be eliminated, the resolution says.
According to the resolution the board will create and fill one public defender position due to the extreme need.
“The extraordinary number of cases in conjunction with the geographic challenges posed by a county as large as St. Lawrence, places the office of the public defender in jeopardy of being able to provide even the most basic services to its current clientele without additional staff,” the resolution said.
In 2012 the County Public Defenders office handled more than 2,800 cases. In 2013 the office handled more than 3,100 cases. In recent months the country passed a resolution aimed at shifting public defense costs back to the state.
“The right to a speedy trial is a well-established part of our American system but the state and federal governments rely on the county to fulfill this mandate,” St. Lawrence County Legislative Chairman Jonathan Putney said in a recently released statement.