KINGSTON – Ulster County Executive Patrick Ryan has named a new county public defender.
Lauren Sheeley served as first assistant county attorney since September 2019 previously worked as the attorney in charge of Legal Services of the Hudson Valley.
Ryan said Sheeley “has dedicated her career to successfully protecting our most vulnerable residents.”
County Legislature Chairman David Donaldson noted the public defender must live in Ulster County; Sheeley lives in Red Hook. He has other concerns as well.
“Right here in Ulster County we have people who have been defending for decades and very effective defense,” he said. “And whereas the person that seemed to be appointed has been mostly doing tenant work – tenants’ rights work and things of that nature – I am not no sure about how much real criminal justice work she has done. My real concern is why we are reaching outside of Ulster County.”
“Having dedicated most of my career to fighting for the rights of impoverished and marginalized people, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to provide high quality legal counsel and effective representation as the Ulster County public defender,” Sheeley said.
Kingston Mayor Steven Noble called her a great leader and tenacious.” He said she “has a strong dedication to both Ulster County and to low-income individuals and families to hold in this position and serve the community.”
Michael Berg, executive director of Family of Woodstock/New Paltz, said he has worked with Sheeley for the last seven years on the Ulster County Department of Social Advisory Board, the Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Council, and the Ulster County Continuum of Care and he said she is “aware of her commitment to Ulster County and those most vulnerable.”
Sheeley’s appointment must be confirmed by the county legislature.