County OKs public defender funding

ALBANY -- The Dougherty County Commission unanimously approved a measure Monday that will renew a contract with the local public defenders office.

The Dougherty County Public Defenders office is a hybrid organization that is a joint function of the state of Georgia and the Dougherty County government to provide legal services for those accused of a crime but who cannot afford an attorney.

The commission voted Monday to renew the public defenders contract for $721,600. That contract will run from July 1 and expire June 30, 2011, according to public documents.

According to the agreement, the county will fund 14 total positions, including a pay supplement to Chief Public Defender Leisa Terry and Chief Assistant Public Defenders Betty Moore and William Godfrey. Terry, Moore and Godfrey receive their salaries from the state.

While the state mandates that county governments provide attorneys to defend the poor accused of crimes, it offers little financial assistance outside the salaries and benefits of six positions in the office.

According to the FY 2011 budget for the office, the county contributes roughly double the amount of funding when compared to the state.

The county money will be dispersed in monthly installments of $60,133.33 for 12 months.