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St. Lawrence County will complete contract for assigned counsel program

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CANTON — After a year of negotiation, St. Lawrence County is in the final stages of having a contract with the county Bar Association to handle the assigned counsel program.

The two-year agreement includes hiring Canton attorney Scott B. Goldie as plan administrator. He will be paid $42,000 in the first year and $40,000 in the second year. Mr. Goldie will be the administrator, while members of his secretarial staff will handle the paperwork, releasing the county from a lot of the bureaucracy, County Attorney Michael C. Crowe said.

“It was felt this was the most efficient way,” Mr. Crowe said.

The contract has been approved by Bar Association President Paula A. Michaud and faces a final review by members of the association’s executive committee.

“I’m confident they’ll act on it promptly,” Mr. Crowe said.

The county Board of Legislators has given its approval for Chairman Jonathan S. Putney, D-Waddington, to sign the contract.

Assigned counsel is the third way the judicial system ensures that the poor are represented in criminal cases. If they are financially eligible, their case is handled by either the public defender, the conflict defender or assigned counsel. The county had taken on more of the administrative duties of the assigned counsel program, but the new method reverts in some ways to how it was handled previously.

The work associated with indigent defense has grown because of a push for representation at every stage of a criminal proceeding, including arraignments, Mr. Crowe said.

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