Logan County Board votes down
motion to request list of appointees for public defender
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[September 22, 2016]
- On Tuesday, September 20, 2016, the Logan County Board held their
Regular meeting to vote on several motions and resolutions. One
focus of discussion was whether to request a list of appointees for
the Office of Public Defender from the 11th Judicial Circuit.
Public Defender Patrick Timoney asked the board about their
motivation for asking for a list of appointees. Timoney said he has
served as a public defender for people in Lincoln for 20 years and
has not had complaints from county board members or those on the
Board member Kevin Bateman asked Timoney if he has looked into
having an office in town. He said some persons would like more time
to meet with the public defender and using office space would be
Timoney said when there was a public defender's office in town, few
utilized it and people often failed to show up for appointments.
They did away with the office as a cost savings measure.
Board member Pat O'Neill said some people are interested in having
local defenders because they cannot travel to Springfield. Some
needing his service have also said they do not feel they had much
time to meet with the defender before court.
Timoney said he always makes time to meet with people and very few
have to come to Springfield to meet with him. He said it would be
great to have a local office in the courthouse, but there was no
space available when he asked before. Right now, Timoney meets
people in jury rooms.
Timoney said when he has had vacancies, no local attorneys have been
interested in serving as a public defender full time because it
affects their private practice. He said Ted Mills, Jim Grimaldi,
Blinn Bates, and Tom Van Hook have all served as contractual public
Timoney said circuit judges appoint public defenders and just death
or resignation create vacancies. The county board does not appoint
Community Action's Alison Rumler-Gomez said she has many clients who
have been involved with the criminal justice system. She would like
to have more connection with the public defender's office.
Legislative Committee chair Scott Schaffenacker asked that it be
referred back to committee.
State's Attorney Jonathan Wright asked them to withdraw the motion.
He said Timoney and other public defenders he has worked with are
top tier lawyers. Wright said if the board has just gotten a handful
of calls in 20 years, it is minimal. Wright said no cases during his
tenure have been overturned.
Wright said he would have ethical concerns if he found defendants
were coming in without due process.
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Timoney said he looks for those he feels are effective attorneys to
be assistant public defenders and two are now circuit clerk judges.
Board member Chuck Ruben said Timoney has come up with solutions to
cost issues by lowering the judicial budget when it was $38,000 over
Timoney said he lowered that budget by asking judges to not bill by the hour,
but to bill with a flat fee per month.
Board Chairman David Hepler said he would like better communication and wanted
Timoney to know about more local resources like CAPCIL.
Wright said statutes state that the county should provide a local office and if
just needing a local office, space can be found. He said it would have been nice
to let Timoney know before bringing the motion for a list of appointees forward.
Bateman said the Buildings and Grounds Committee could help find office space.
O'Neill said since local accessibility is a complaint and some local attorneys
may be interested in the position, he would like the board to write a letter to
Judge Fitzgerald with the reasons they are seeking public defenders.
Schaffenacker's motion to refer the request for a list of public appointees for
the office of public defender back to committee failed with Kevin Bateman, Emily
Davenport, Bob Farmer, David Hepler, Pat O'Neill, Gene Rohlfs, and Chuck Ruben
voting no; with Scott Schaffenacker and Adam Schmidt voting yes.
Schaffenacker's main motion to request a list of public appointees for the
office of public defender also failed with Kevin Bateman, Emily Davenport, Bob
Farmer, Gene Rohlfs, and Chuck Ruben, Scott Schaffenacker and Adam Schmidt
voting no; Pat O'Neill and David Hepler voting yes.
Board Chairman David Hepler said they will need to look into office space for
the public defender.