Whittelsey Hydrostation, Malone
Photo Courtesy Franklin County Historical & Museum Society

Public Defender, Conflict Defender, Alternate Conflict Defender & Assigned Counsel

Table Of Contents:


The Franklin County Assigned Counsel Program is seeking attorneys to sit on its 18-B panel for indigent defense clients. If you are interested in joining this panel, please call Assigned Counsel Coordinator Jill Dyer at 518-481-1423.



Public & Conflict Defender's Office

    The Franklin County Public, Conflict and Alternate Conflict Defender's Offices represent individuals in local criminal courts, County Court, Supreme Court and Family Court. Neither office is a private law firm and may only represent individuals assigned by the Assigned Counsel Coordinator who have cases pending in Franklin County. Cases that cannot be assigned to the Public Defender's Office are assigned to the Conflict Defender's Office; this is done when there is a conflict of interest.

    Individuals who believe they may qualify for a free attorney must apply through the Office of the Assigned Counsel Coordinator located on the second floor of the County Courthouse.  It is important that you bring all court documents and verification of income when you apply.

    The Public and Conflict Defender's Offices do not handle civil cases, including divorces, landlord/tenant matters, or medical malpractice/personal injury claims, or credits and judgements.

Assigned Counsel Coordinator

    The Assigned Counsel Coordinator is responsible for accepting, reviewing and assigning cases to the Public or Conflict Defenders, or to the 18B Panel of private local attorneys. Case eligibility is based on the charge and the financial status of the applicant.

Public Defender
Thomas Soucia
355 West Main Street, Suite 228
Malone, NY 12953
Phone: 518-481-1624
Conflict Defender
Claire Knittel
355 West Main Street, Suite 237
Malone, NY 12953
Phone: 518-481-1593
Assigned Counsel Coordinator
Jill Dyer
355 West Main Street, Suite 213
Malone, NY, NY 12953
Phone: 518-481-1423
The Assigned Counsel Office is located next door to the Public Defender's Office.
How Do I Apply for a Public Defender?

Anyone seeking legal representation by a Public Defender must begin by filling out an application, which can be obtained from the Assigned Counsel Coordinator. Your case must be eligible for a Public Defender, and you must be financially eligible in order to be assigned a Public Defender.

Is my case eligible?

The following types of cases are eligible for representation by a Public Defender.


  • Any case that has jail as a possible sentence
  • Parole revocation hearings
  • Extradition
  • Crimes committed while in the custody of NYS Department of Corrections
  • Custody/Visitation by parents (no step-parents)
  • Visitation by grandparents (no step-grandparents)
  • Neglect- Respondents Only, including custodial parents
  • Support, but only for violation and only for respondent
  • Family offense for petitioner and respondent
  • Paternity, respondent only
  • JD/PINS; parents are eligible but only if the government wishes to take the children from the home or keep the children from returning home


    Cases that are NOT eligible

  • DWAI (driving while ability impaired), unlawful possession of marijuana
  • Unlawful possession of marijuana
  • Grand Jury

What Else Must I Submit With My Application?

Applicants must complete the entire application in full before it will be considered for assignment to an attorney. If the application is incomplete, it will be returned to you. In addition, the following information MUST be provided along with the application.



A copy of documentation detailing your charges, if you have been charged with a crime. These documents can include:



The charges or accusatory instrument


Violation of probation petition

Written statements or depositions of any witnessess




If you are applying for an attorney regarding a family matter, you must include a copy of your petition and summons with your application. The petition details the current issue being considered by the court, and the summons informs you when you should appear before the judge.

How Do I Know Who My Attorney Is?

If the Assigned Counsel Coordinator has determined that you are eligible for a Public Defender, your case will be assigned in one of three ways:


1. To the Public Defender's Office

2. To the Conflict Defender's Office

3. To the Alternate Conflict Defender's Office

4. To a private attorney

Once your is assigned, you will receive a letter in the mail informing you to which office you have been assigned, which will be either the Public Defender's Office or Conflict Defender's Office. You must call the number provided immediately, and you will be assigned your attorney by the office. If you are assigned to a private attorney, your letter will inform you who that attorney is, as well as their phone number. If you are assigned to a private attorney, you must call the phone number provided immediately.

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