Attorney Joe Johnson III
Attorney Joe Johnson III went before the Adams County Council to request an additional appropriation to hire a part-time secretary for the public defender's office.
Johnson said there is currently $104,332 available in the public defender's fund and no additional funds are needed by the county to fill the position.
Currently, there is one secretary working for three public defenders, and none of the attorneys work out of the public defender's office. This means the current secretary must travel between the three attorney's offices to deliver paperwork related to clients, causing her to be out of the public defender's office for substantial periods throughout the day, according to Johnson.
Council member Eric Orr, who at one time worked for the public defender's office, said this could create a potential problem for the county if those using a public defender feel unable to contact their attorney.
"When you have a guy in jail, he has nothing to think about all day but his case," said Orr, "If this guy feels he's not being represented competently by his court-appointed attorney it could cost the county money in an appeal case."
Johnson added the public defender fund is made up of court user fees and has grown quite substantially, and the Public Defender's Commission out of Indianapolis has said the money needs to be used. This money is not transferable to another department and must be used for public defender related fees, according to Johnson.
Council approved the appropriation 5-0, with member Eric Orr abstaining and member Kenyon Sprunger absent.