Essex County public defender pleads for more help

"When we stop meeting with victims and giving them that personal touch, people are not going to get justice," she said. "They're going to be knocking on your doors complaining that the district attorney or the public defender isn't representing to the best of their abilities."

Unlike in Franklin County, the Essex County Public Defender only handles criminal cases, while those in family courts are assigned to private lawyers. Though not totally opposed to the proposal, Public Safety Committee Chairman Randy Preston wondered why it didn't come up before the 2011 budget was enacted.

"It's January 10 and this is just coming up now," Preston said.

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