Monroe County legislators accuse colleagues of abusing power after meeting about choosing public defender

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The debate over who will become the county’s next lead public defender continues to heat up. During a County legislature meeting on Tuesday, a procedural vote blocked a special meeting to nominate Julie Cianca for the head of the Public Defender’s Office.

Members of the legislature’s Democratic Caucus are now accusing their colleagues of abuse of power.

Lawmakers are split between appointing either Monroe County assistant public defender Julie Cianca or Buffalo criminal defense attorney Robert Fogg to lead the office. County Legislature President Sabrina announced Fogg as her choice in July but there hasn’t been a final vote yet.

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In a statement, democratic leader Yversha Roman says: “It’s clear that president Sabrina Lamar is eager to uphold the tradition of using despicable tactics and ignoring the rules of the legislature to try and overtly suppress the will of the bi-partisan majority of legislators.”

We reached out to Lamar for comment but we haven’t heard back yet.

In August, Attorneys at the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office said they will unionize and said that their office has been in turmoil over the legislature’s failure to select a lead public defender.