Public Defender Ned Barone requests part-time investigator

MAYVILLE – The Public Defender’s Office has entered a plea for a part-time investigator.

Ned Barone, public defender, appeared in front of the Audit and Control Committee for a second time Tuesday, to make his case for adding a .49 full-time-equivalent position for an investigator. Barone cited a retrial that will be taking place in Chautauqua County as another example – along with three murder trials taking place over the next several months – of why a part-time position is needed.

“Mr. Barone came in this morning to talk briefly about the difficulty that his office is confronted with, with an inordinate number of homicide cases which takes a lot of time and effort,” said Audit and Control Committee Chairman John Runkle, R-Stockton. “He addressed our committee this morning regarding it, and we took no action regarding it. That doesn’t mean in front of the whole legislature that more action can’t be taken.”

During last week’s Public Safety Committee, Paul Wendel, R-Lakewood, had recommended the part time position, after hearing from the Public Defender’s Office as well as the District Attorney’s Office about the increase in the time spent in court, due to an increase in caseloads.

The Public Defender’s Office saw an increase between its 2013 amended budget, which was $1,236,041, and Edwards’ tentative budget, which was $1,295,406, without the part-time position added.

When the Audit and Control Committee heard from the Public Defender’s Office on Monday, it chose to not fund any increases. After hearing from Barone once again Tuesday, it made no recommendations.

“I feel, as an Audit and Control Committee thus far, we’ve done our due diligence,” Runkle said. “We’ve done what the taxpayer wanted. (Today) we’re going to be talking about the fund balance, and any money that might be hanging out there that we might be able to use to further reduce the budget for next year.”