City & County

Clark County panel hears request from public defender to move office

By JOEL PHELPS | The Arkadelphian

With a growing workload of criminal cases and no privacy for attorneys to talk with clients, the Clark County Public Defender’s Office on Friday requested to move out of its current office across from the courthouse and into a larger space across town.

Legal support specialist Renee Pritchard made the request to the Clark County Budget Committee, a five-member panel of the Quorum Court. “We just need a bigger space,” Pritchard told the committee, adding that the county’s two public defenders, Clint Mathis and Clinton DeWitt, share a private meeting room to confer with clients at the current location on Clay Street. The office also keeps its files in the lobby/waiting area.

Pritchard fielded questions from county Judge Troy Tucker, as well as justices Garry “B.J.” Johns and Vanilla Hannah, regarding what changes of late have spurred the request. Pritchard said that, for one, the workload has increased with a “bunch more” clients since the office moved into its Clay Street office a decade ago.

The defender’s office is hoping to rent a space between Dr. David Bell’s dental clinic and financial advisor Seth Collins’ office. The move would include an annual increase in rent of $6,600, or $550 more per month. The increase would not affect the county’s General Fund, Tucker said, as the public defender have funding specific to their office from court costs. The public defenders have a “hefty” fund built up, Tucker said.

The newly appointed committee conducted business without first electing a chairman. With no formal motion the committee approved the request with no opposition, but wanted more information — square footage of the new office, lease terms and the cost associated with the move — by the time the full quorum court considers the request during its May 13 meeting.

In a separate request, the committee gave tentative approval to a $1,500 raise for a chief deputy clerk position within the district court office. The Personnel Committee is expected to create the title for the position.

Members of the Clark County Budget Committee

Members of the committee were appointed recently by county Judge Troy Tucker. They are:

Wayne Baumgardner
Zach Bledsoe
Vanilla Hannah
Garry “B.J.” Johns
Mark Overturf

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