Rochester attorney D. Scott Young has joined the Monroe County Conflict Defender’s Office in the newly created position of resource attorney.
Conflict Defender Mark Funk explained that Young was added Jan. 1 to provide assistance to assigned counsel panel attorneys.
Through the Conflict Defender Office, a panel of about 150 private attorneys represent clients when the Monroe County Public Defender Office has a conflict of interest.
Young’s position is being funded with a grant from the New York State Office of Indigent Legal Services (ILS) which is pushing for improvements in the way assigned counsel programs across the state have been operating.
Until recently, assigned counsel attorneys received very little assistance after they take on a case. Now ILS officials wants more support services, Funk said.
Programs are being encouraged to make increased use of expert witnesses, to provide second-chair attorneys in homicides and other more serious cases, and offering mentoring programs for panel attorneys.
“That’s all part of what the Office of Indigent Legal Services wants from assigned counsel programs and that’s kind of where Scott comes in,” Funk said.
Young received his bachelor’s degree in public justice and forensic science at SUNY Oswego in 1982 and his law degree in 1986 from Vermont Law School in 1986.
Before joining the Conflict Defender Office, Young was a partner at Ashcraft Franklin & Young LLP.
The exact dimensions of Young’s position are still being determined. His first task, which is still in progress, has been to do an assessment of the county’s assigned counsel panel by evaluating procedures and interviewing attorneys and judges to find deficiencies as well as what they do well.
“It’s an eye opener, especially speaking with the judges,” Young said.
“One of the things a number of them said is the lack, not just in 18B attorneys, but young attorneys in general whether it be prosecution or defense attorneys, is the lack of professionalism and courtroom decorum,” Young said.
It’s very common for local attorneys in private practice to seek advice from each other in a very informal way.
“That’s what I perceive as one of the primary functions for me,” Young said.
Young says it’s crucial for young attorneys to reach out to others.
“I’ve been doing that my whole career. If I’ve got a trial coming up, I talk to other lawyers, I talk to law people because they may bring a different perception to it or idea to it that you overlooked or didn’t see. I’m hoping that the other attorneys will utilize me,” he said.
Over the years, Funk said, he has made connections with many professionals who can be helpful in a variety of situations.
“I know where to go to get information … and I think Scott has that perspective as well, that if we don’t know the answer, we know who does have the answer and we can get the information to the attorney,” Funk said.
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