LIMA — After months of examining the issue, Allen County will officially have its own public defender’s office.
Allen County Commissioners closed on the $175,000 purchase of the building at 417 N. West St. Thursday, and they are now taking the steps to advertise for the chief public defender position.
Joe Patton, president of the county’s public defender’s commission, said after the county hires the public defender, subsequent roles will be defined and hired to fill out the remaining office.
“Our first steps with the board, we decided to post that, get that position filled and then we’ll build the public defenders office where needed,” Patton said.
Currently, public defenders serve at hourly rates. Patton said a full-time office will help improve indigent defense services by being able to better control schedules of the attorneys in that office, and overall, the move will produce better efficiency costs for the county.
In the meantime, the county has since reached out to the state’s bar association and the Allen County Prosecuting Attorney’s office to find eligible attorneys. The fine details of whats required for the position is also currently available on the Ohio Means Jobs website.
That ad calls for applicants with five to seven years of experience in criminal defense, as well as administrative experience, as part of it minimum requirements. The salary has been set at $85,000 to $95,000 a year.
Back in September, commissioners estimated that the costs to set up the full-time office will range between $970,000 and $1.2 million in total. County taxpayers will be responsible for at least 30% of the total cost.
The State of Ohio is expected to reimburse the remaining 70% of the costs associated with the office.
Overall, such costs are expected to be recouped over time due to increased efficiency of the office, Patton said, and ultimately, the move should save dollars for the county.
The current part-time public defender’s office is housed at Lima’s Municipal Court. The new location, like its old one, will allow those in need of a public defender to walk back and forth between the courts and the new office.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.