Goehler v. Cortland County – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Goehler v. Cortland County (70 AD3d 57, 890 NYS2d 660 [3d Dept 2009]), the County of Cortland replaced a bar plan for conflict cases and promulgated a local law which created an office of conflict counsel. The defendant implemented a procedure whereby a public defender conflict attorney was appointed by the County Legislature.

The Appellate Division affirmed the Supreme Court's decision invalidating the local law on the ground that it violated section 722 and the Municipal Home Rule Law.

The Court held that "a conflict attorney appointed by the County Legislature is not authorized by section 722, which mandates that a county enact a plan for providing counsel to indigent litigants that 'shall conform' to one of four options" set forth in County Law § 722 (1) through (4) (Goehler, 70 AD3d at 60 ).