County defender looks to add position for family court

(Photo via Shutterstock).

A new public defender position could help with high caseloads of child abuse and neglect.

Cortland County Public Defender Keith Dayton told legislators at Tuesday’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee meeting that the new position would be fully funded through a state Caseload Reduction grant awarded by the New York Office of Indigent Legal Services (ILS). The grant would cover the position, set to earn anywhere from $72,247 to $96,160 a year, for at least the next three years. A new assistant public defender, Dayton said, would help with family court cases of abuse and neglect.

Keith Dayton, Cortland County Public Defender. (Photo via Google).

“This is the final phase of approval. We were awarded this grant at the beginning of the year, and we brought it to a resolution with the Legislature in March, which passed to create the budget line items for this position and money for other expenses,” Dayton said.

Legislators at the committee meeting unanimously voted in favor of the resolution, which will now head to the floor at the Aug. 25 County Legislature meeting for a final vote.

County Legislator Kelly Preston (R-LD-10) spoke on the financial side of the position.

“It is really important that the position will expire when the grant money is no longer available,” she said. “Let's hope it continues for a while.”

Dayton said he remains optimistic the position could be extended beyond the three years.

“If the money goes, the position goes. I know that is the standard position of the Legislature,” he added. “Although from my experience with ILS, they have always followed through on continuing grants after that. Even though we are starting the position and having it reimbursed, we banked the money from the beginning of the year, so we will have extra money in there.”