Davis County adds 12th public defender

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 5:02 PM

Bryon Saxton

FARMINGTON — In response to the indigent and juvenile caseload, Davis County has added another public defender to its staff for the 2013 calendar year.

The addition of Erin Hill brings the number of public defenders having contracts with the county to 12.

“By adding another attorney, we’re hoping to avoid scheduling conflicts,” Davis County Legal Defender Coordinator Todd Utzinger told the Davis County Commission at a recent meeting.

The additional hiring should also help the county avoid having to pay overtime to its staff, Utzinger said.

Because of the economy, public defenders are used in about 75 to 80 percent of all cases, he said.

“Maybe even a higher (percentage) in juvenile court,” he said.

Hill will do a majority of her work in the juvenile court system.

The legal defenders will operate out of the same set budget, he said, dividing those funds among 12 attorneys, versus the 11 legal defenders who were on staff, Utzinger said.

The total cost for all 12 contracts for 2013 is $1.754 million, said Davis County Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings.

This year, the public defender’s contracts totaled $1.719 million, he said. The difference between this year’s and next year’s figure is a built-in 3 percent cost-of-living expense added to each contract.

In addition to approving the hiring of Hill, the commission also approved legal defender contracts with Ryan Bushell, Scott Wiggins, Todd Sessions, Don Redd, Matthew Nebeker, Julie George, Richard Gallegos, Ronald Fujino, Michael Edwards, Mark Arrington and William Albright.

“It looks like you have a full slate,” County Commissioner Bret Millburn said of the contracts.

“We appreciate the work you have done to make this run smoothly,” County Commissioner Louenda Downs told Utzinger, referring to his coordinating the county’s public defender team.

“The commission has made a commitment to providing quality attorneys,” Utzinger said, adding that the additional legal defender will serve everybody a little better.

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