Public defender calls for 24-hour access to lawyer

HUDSON–Among the requests brought to the July 18 meeting of the Public Safety Committee of the county Board of Supervisors was one from county Public Defender Robert Linville that would expand the access to an attorney for suspects who can’t afford their own lawyer.

Mr. Linville requested approval of a contract between the state Office of Indigent Legal Services and the county, totaling $151,700 over three years. The money would pay for a 24-hour, on-call arraignment attorney at a cost of $50,600 annually.

But Mr. Linville said this week that state officials have declined to fund the program because it would have allowed lawyers to represent defendants at arraignments over the phone in some cases. “It’s not something they want to support,” he said, though he noted that local judges have permitted representation by phone in certain instances.

“I’m committed to having lawyers at arraignments,” said Mr. Linville. But he said that because of the size of the county and the number of courts, “I’m just struggling to figure out how to do it.”

The public defender, whose office represents defendants who cannot afford a lawyer, said that in reworking his proposal he would adhere to the right guaranteed in the Constitution that “everyone brought before a judge should have a lawyer.” And Mr. Linville restated the his position that all defendants are innocent until they go to trial and are found, or plead, guilty. Until that time, he said, “They’re innocent and they deserve lawyers.”

Also at the meeting, county Emergency 911 Director Robert Lopez asked for $2,000 to purchase supplies for the County’s 911 exhibit at the Columbia County Fair.

Mr. Lopez also requested:

•That United Concrete Products be awarded the Communications Shelter Bid for a total price of $73,681, budgeted as part of the capital project

•That RS Telecom be awarded the budgeted Microwave Radio Maintenance bid for an annual amount of $34,000

•That a maintenance contract be arranged with Intrado for the 911 phone maintenance for a year, for a total cost of $61,200, which is budgeted and, when combined with Tiburon for CAD maintenance of $40,700, saves $133,500 compared to last year.

During the meeting Fire Coordinator John Howe acknowledged the Sheriff’s Office and the E-911 agency for their combined efforts in response to a flash flood that involved rescuing a person from a creek in Ancram. He also acknowledged the 911 Department for its assistance in a multi-casualty incident on the Thruway.

Sheriff David W. Harrison Jr. reported that the Out of County Inmate Report shows that the boarding of inmates at the jail has resulted in $180,000 in year-to-date revenue over the budgeted amount.

The sheriff also asked for authority to fill a position vacated by the retirement of Lieutenant James Andrews, and requested $8,568 for a Point Two Authorization for 3 Motorola PM mobile radios.

The committee then went into executive session to discuss the worker’s compensation status of certain employees.



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