Local office receives grant

Fulton County Public Defender Gerard McAuliffe discusses grant funding at the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee meeting Monday at the County Office Building in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton County Public Defender’s Office has received a three-year, $634,920 grant in its mission to assist indigent clients.

Public Defender Gerard McAuliffe imparted information concerning the Counsel At First Appearance, or CAFA Grant, Monday to the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee.

“We’re requesting authorization to accept this,” said McAuliffe, due to assume the county Family Court judgeship in January.

The committee authorized acceptance of a CASA grant, funded by the state at $211,640 per year retroactive to 2017 and running through 2019. The full board will vote Nov. 12 on full acceptance. Authorization by the board to apply for the grant was authorized in February 2017.

The competitive CAFA grant program is run through the state Office of Indigent Legal Services. The program seeks to address the challenge of providing counsel to suspects at their first court appearance.

McAuliffe said if approval is given by the board, there may still be a contractual delay. He said his experience shows it takes two to four months to receive contracts back from the state.

Also before the committee, McAuliffe informed supervisors that his office has a grant due to expire Dec. 31. He said the state Office of Indigent Legal Services approved extending the grant for one year.

“We do these quite regularly,” he said.

McAuliffe also received committee approval to continue a Memorandum of Understanding with the Rural Law Center of NY Inc. to provide mandated appellate representation for 2019-20. The current MOU is due to expire Dec. 31.

He said the law center gave the county the option of continuing in two-year increments. The new MOU is to handle appellate cases for an additional two-year period at the same rate of $2,500 per appeal. To date, the law center has handled three appeals for Fulton County and cost savings was $1,531.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Josh Bovee

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