LIVINGSTON COUNTY – Newly appointed Conflict Defender Hayden Dadd provided the Livingston County Public Services Committee with his plan to make sure that anyone in need of an appointed attorney gets one, even in the most unlikely circumstances.
In his first weeks of office, part of Dadd’s duties are to present the Assigned Counsel Plan, a written procedure to assign defense counsel in the situation where a defendant is indigent (qualifies for the Public Defender by NYS standards) but has irreconcilable conflicts of interest with both the Public Defender (PD)’s Office and Dadd’s office.
“In a number of scenarios, it is necessary for a Conflict Defender to assign cases out to attorneys who are not affiliated with either the PD or the Conflict Office,” said Dadd. “Say three people are charged with a robbery offense and all of them would qualify for the Public Defender. One defendant would go to the PD, one would come to my office and one would be assigned to some member of the assigned counsel panel.”
Dadd’s plan lays out what qualifications are required for attorneys to be assigned cases under these circumstances.
“I think it’s important for our office that we have the right types of attorneys assigned to the right types of cases,” said Dadd. “We don’t want someone fresh out of law school all of a sudden straddled with felonies or someone who just wants to focus on family court to be thrown onto the criminal panel”
The plan also lays out what would happen in the rare situation where the Public Defender’s Office feels that there is such a conflict of interest that they are not comfortable determining attorneys’ eligibility for a case on their own. In that case, the Public Defender would defer to the Conflict Defender.
“I’ve never seen that in my experience, but essentially the state and the Office of Indigent Legal Services want us to have this in writing in the instance that it may happen,” said Dadd.
Dadd’s plan draws heavily from Ontario County’s plan. Ontario County was one of five which were sued by New York State for failing to comply with indigent defense guidelines and now has their entire cost of Public Defense funded by the state as part of their settlement.
“I can tell you from my own experience, because a few years ago I was on a lot of these panels in Wyoming and Monroe and Steuben, that this is very similar to what those other counties are doing,” said Dadd.
The plan must be approved by the Livingston County Board of Supervisors, the Livingston County Bar Association and, eventually, the Honorable Lawrence K. Marks, Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts in New York State.