Public Defender

The Erie County Public Defender’s Office provides legal advice and representation for residents who are financially unable to retain legal counsel and who are in jeopardy of losing their freedom.

Chief Public Defender Patricia Kennedy and her staff, which operate under the county executive and are overseen by the director of administration, aim to ensure equality in the criminal justice system by enforcing the rights of those accused of crimes to receive legal representation. They also provide legal representation to those facing involuntary commitment under the Mental Health Act.

In addition, the Public Defender’s Office collaborates with other county departments and community providers to support Treatment Courts, including Veterans Court, which helps people charged with crimes to be diverted from incarceration.

Did you know? The Public Defender’s Office helps about 5,000 people each year.