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Commissioners discuss public defender PDF Print E-mail

By Tim Linscott
Managing Editor
Is splitting something three ways cheaper?
In a quest to potentially save taxpayer money, the Perkins County Commissioners will look into sharing a public defender with Dundy and Arthur counties.
Attorney George Zeilinger spoke with the commissioners recently about the three counties sharing a public defender.
“If you are considering this, you should begin discussions now,” Zeilinger said. “You will save some (money), a little with three counties involved.”
Perkins County currently spends $32,000 per year on public defense in court. Class I, II felonies are not covered by the current system and handled the majority of juvenile cases.
Zeilinger’s proposition is to have a flat fee monthly if all three counties can agree, but if that public defender must recuse him or herself from a case for a conflict of interest, there may be additional fees for hiring another attorney.
“You may have to pay a different attorney but not that much for as few cases there would be a conflict,” Zeilinger said.
He estimated Perkins County would pay $27,500 per year for a public defender. Zeilinger notes that if he gets the position, he would be an independent contractor with the county.
Dundy County does not have a public defender at the moment.
Commissioners agreed to discuss the situation further at a future meeting and report back to Zeilinger.