Public Defender’s Office to relocate
The Chautauqua County Public Defender’s Office is looking to relocate in the city of Jamestown.
During the legislature’s Audit and Control Committee meeting, members approved a resolution for the county to lease 4,147 square feet of office space in the third floor of the Jamestown Municipal Building, 200 E. Third St. The rent will be $4,479 a month from Feb. 1 to Dec. 31. After that, the rate increases yearly to a maximum rate of $5,374 a month for 2026.
The city of Jamestown will be responsible for utilities and the county will be responsible for phone, cable and internet.
Chautauqua County Public Defender Ned Barone said they currently occupy 1,200 square feet at the Lind Building in Jamestown, so this site would be much larger. He noted that he has 48 people in his department and their caseload is one of the highest in upstate New York.
“Approximately 70% of our caseload comes out of the city of Jamestown and the southern part of the county,” he said.
Barone has served as the county’s Public Defender since 2012. He said the caseload has continued to increase. He said he is projected to have nearly 11,000 cases this year.
He wants to use the city hall office for casework and keep the Lind Building office for the reentry program. He said the different locations will help with confidentially.
Barone also likes what city hall has to offer because the courtroom and the Department of Mental Health are in the same building, and city hall offers security. “One of my concerns is the safety of each and every employee,” he said.
Barone believes much of the funding will be covered through various state programs.
The new location does not impact the Dunkirk or Mayville offices.
Legislator Terry Niebel, R-Sheridan, said he’s concerned about the cost, especially since they’re renting space and won’t own anything. He said he does support the move but next time wants the county’s Department of Public Facilities to negotiate the lease instead of the Public Defender’s office doing the negotiating.
The resolution now heads to the full legislature for final approval.