The judges accepted a proposal from local criminal defense attorney Joel Brown. Criminal Courts Administrator Rena Parker says details on the new public defender service are still being worked out:
“Right now the courts are entering into negotiations with Joel Brown as the selected new public defender, and negotiating that contract takes time as always,” Parker says.
“We still need someone to manage the assistant public defenders in the courts and keep things moving. So we’ve asked someone to come in as an interim for two months while we do the negotiations,” Parker says.
The news comes months after the judges effectively looked to bid out the service. The current public defender, Thomas Penn, has held the post for three decades. County documents reflect financial questions about Penn’s record keeping and money management in the operation of the public defender’s office. Penn's contract expires today. Local attorney Jeff Flanagan is serving as interim public defender until the judges work out a formal deal with Joel Brown.