Gavel

AUBURN — Responding to new legislation signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo requiring defense attorneys at all arraignments no matter the time of day, Cayuga County could set up a central hub in Auburn.

Lloyd Hoskins, executive director of the assigned council program, said off-hour arraignments could be held in the Cayuga County Mental Health Center on North Street in Auburn, with one judge on call during the normal working hours, and judges on a rotation schedule from about 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. 

A defense attorney will be available 24 hours a day, seven days per week, he added.

So far the plan has been approved by the Cayuga County Magistrates Association, local judges, and the Cayuga County Bar Association. The next step, Hoskins told Cayuga County legislators at a Judicial and Public Safety Committee meeting Wednesday night, is to get the sign-off from law enforcement agencies.

"Our next meeting will be with law enforcement, which will include APD (Auburn Police Department), (New York) State Police, and the (Cayuga County) Sheriff's Office, because obviously they're going to be involved in the transports," Hoskins said.

Other possible plans that had been discussed included a few courts spaced across the county to be on call for off-hour arraignments. The difficulty some worry about with holding them in one location, is Cayuga County is about 75 miles long. That means if someone needs to be arraigned in Genoa or Fair Haven, law enforcement will have to drive them to Auburn.

There had also been concern at the end of last year for how the county would pay for off-hour arraignments. The state does not cover all of the county's indigent legal defense costs. Hoskins said he was able to secure grant funding to pay defense attorneys on call. The grant is expected to last for three years.

Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or gwendolyn.craig@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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