HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (6/10/13) – The Department of Public Advocacy (DPA) has moved the Madisonville Public Defender Office led by Eric Stovall to the old courthouse at 10 S. Main Street, 3rd floor, Madisonville, KY 42431, 270-824-7001.
The Madisonville public defender employees are: Eric Stovall, Directing Attorney; Tonya Rickard, Administrative Specialist; Christy Givens, Legal Secretary; Darlene Walters, Investigator; Shannon Dzikowski, Office Assistant; Rena Richardson, Social Worker; and Staff Attorneys, Amie Martinez, Lucien Cisney, Mandy Perkins, Nathan Moorhouse, and Kenneth Root. The Madisonville Public Defender Office represents clients in district, circuit, and family courts in Hopkins, McLean and Muhlenberg counties doing misdemeanor, felony and capital cases upon appointment by the court. Last fiscal year, the Office opened 2,632 new cases, an average of 398 cases per attorney.
DPA Trial Division Director, Glenda Edwards, identified the importance of this office move, “The new office is an example of DPA’s commitment to be a professional part of the communities it serves. This local office is close to the courthouse. That means better fulfillment of the Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel. I am proud that our defenders are breathing life everyday into the fundamental promise of justice for all.”
Today, at the official reopening ceremony, Circuit Judge James Brantley said, “Our judicial system is comprised of several different contributing groups. Police, prosecutors, judges and DPA are a few of these groups. It is essential to fairness, which is the cornerstone of our system. We as a community should strive to see that those who contribute are provided with comfortable work facilities. I am proud to see that our community conscientiously works to maintain high standards for our judicial system. In turn, we who work in the system must strive to insure that the confidence expressed by our community is repaid to the community by the highest standard of professional excellence we can achieve.”
In addition to being directing attorney of the Madisonville Office, Eric Stovall is DPA Western Regional Manager for the defender offices in Henderson, Hopkinsville, Murray, and Paducah. Eric, who has been a public defender for 7 years and has been the Madisonville Defender Office Directing Attorney since 2009, said, “We are glad to be close to our clients and the leaders in the Hopkins County criminal justice system. We strive to represent our clients the way we would want to be represented, professionally, vigorously and focused on fair outcomes. This downtown professional office space allows our citizens who are represented by us to have better access to their lawyers because the office is located close to the courthouse and is readily accessible. It also helps our criminal justice system, judges, prosecutors, pretrial release officers, law enforcement and jailers, to work more efficiently with defenders located close to where cases are resolved. Our criminal justice system can only function well if it has the confidence of the people. That takes an efficient system that ensures timely, fair and reliable results. Having public defenders located in professional space close to the courthouse helps our community better achieve that assurance. We know that the empirical evidence demonstrates that having counsel at the initial appearance before a judge improves the likely outcome for a criminal defendant. A defendant with a lawyer at first appearance:
- Is 2 ½ times more likely to be released on recognizance
- Is 4 ½ times more likely to have the amount of bail significantly reduced
- Serves less time in jail (median reduction from 9 days jailed to 2, saving county jail resources while preserving the clients' liberty interests)
- More likely feels that he is treated fairly by the system.”
Jerry Cox of Rockcastle County, Chair of the Public Advocacy Commission, the statewide public defender governing board, said it is important to have professional office space in Hopkins County because clients and the community deserve protection of their individual liberties in a professional manner in all respects. “The right to counsel is not an academic matter,” Cox said. “It makes a difference to have a lawyer. Counsel is the gateway through which the other individual liberties are made real. Just as a judge, prosecutor, police officer, legislator, doctor, or teacher makes a difference in people’s lives, a defense lawyer makes a difference in the achievement of just outcomes arrived at through a fair process. Public defenders in the Madisonville Office are making a difference for over 2,600 people each year.”
Public Advocate Ed Monahan said, “Public defense provides public value. We all want to reduce the amount of money Kentucky is spending on the criminal justice system without compromising public safety. The smartest and safest way to reduce criminal justice costs to taxpayers is by making the front end of the system more effective and efficient, and for that you need a strong public defense system. Public defenders who are criminal defense experts, who have manageable workloads, and who have professional and political independence ensure that the rights guaranteed by our Constitutions are protected so no one’s liberty is taken unless they are proven guilty.
Effective public defense:
- Protects innocent people from wrongful convictions. Kentucky has had many wrongful convictions wasting millions of taxpayers’ dollars;
- Reduces the cost of pretrial detention by making sure bail proceedings are proper and sensible;
- Identifies defendants who are appropriate for cost-effective alternative sentencing; and
- Ensures that plea agreements and sentences are fair and not excessive under state statutes, which helps reduce our correctional population.
Information provided by Jessie Luscher
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