The Dutchess County Public Defenders Office and the Ulster County Public Defenders Office have entered into an inter-municipal agreement to handle conflict cases in each others jurisdictions. A conflict case arises when an attorney has previously represented one of the witnesses in a case or when there are more than one defendant charged with the same crime.
Ordinarily when a conflict arises, state law requires the County to pay a private attorney to handle the conflict at a state mandated hourly rate. Public Defenders are able to handle cases at about one half the cost of a private attorney. Further, because Public Defender offices only handle criminal cases, the offices have on staff investigators, social workers, and para-professional staff. In addition, Public Defender offices have access to ancillary resources necessary to provide quality representation, i.e. expert witnesses and stenographers.
Under the terms of the agreement, the two Public Defender offices have agreed to handle a set number of cases for each other in the following jurisdictions: City of Poughkeepsie, County Court of Dutchess and Ulster, City of Kingston and the Town of Ulster.