Public Defender Office opens

The Public Defenders Office is located directly behind the RC Courthouse.

RUTHERFORDTON – The Public Defenders Office is now open in Rutherfordton. Public Defender Laura Powell invited members of the press to visit her new office and to the swearing-in of several employees at the courthouse on Wednesday, January 2, 2019.

Public Defender
Laura Powell

Among them were:

Brian Oglesby — Oglesby came on in December of 2018. He has been a criminal defense attorney for 24 years.

Alicia Vega — Vega also began her duties in December of 2018. Vega worked for 6 years in Buncombe County and then continued her career for the next 6 years in Rutherford County.

Skip Goldsmith — Goldsmith main practice was in Henderson County, but has been taking cases in Rutherford County for some time. He and Brad Greenway will be sharing one position. Both will be working part-time.

Clerk of Superior Court Steve Owens swore the new Assistant Public Defenders(APD) in.

Investigator Tim Black, and administrative assistant Kandy Hoyle (below) are already members of the PD staff.

Kandy Hoyle and Tim Black in the Superior Court Courtroom

Both Oglesby and Vega brought their court assigned cases with them. In Rutherfordton the PD office attorneys are taking all court appointed attorney cases for indigent defendants.

“There will still be court appointed list of attorneys for conflict cases or cases that for whatever reason can’t be handled by us,” stated Powell. “Or if our numbers (caseload) goes too high, we are allowed to go to the attorney list… Indigent Defense Services allows us to use the Bar recommended guidelines and go to the list if we get overloaded. “

Powell has made it a goal not to have defendants waiting in jail without having an attorney. She noted that in McDowell County (part of Judicial District 29A/41) that the Jail had been very helpful in letting them know who was over there within 48 hours. Her organization has been visiting jailed defendants since Dec. 1, 2018.

Powell has openings for two additional attorney slots, but is awaiting Marion’s increase in caseload and completed offices before hiring them. Already assigned to Marion are:

Johnny Hutchins, a graduate from Campbell Law School and former associate with King Law Offices.

Anna Kegley, formerly in private practice in Kegley Legal Firm, received her law license in April 2014.

Brad Greenway, former district attorney.

Johnny Hutchins, David Norris (in background), Anna Kegley, and Brad Greenway
Contributed photograph.

There will be a separate Public Defender office in McDowell County. However, there have been connectivity issues with the Administration Office of the Courts (AOC) servers yet to be resolved. The PD staff have been provided cell phones for now as the phone system is connected to the AOC servers. They are also awaiting furnishings there. Both offices will be under the umbrella of Powell.

“Either I or David Norris (Chief Assistant Public Defender) will be in Marion and Rutherfordton every day,” assured Powell. “We are not going to take a full caseload starting today in McDowell. It will just be limited to felony cases in Superior Court for probably a couple of more weeks.”

Powell will have someone in the courtroom (Since December, Tim Black) to introduce them to her new office. Later she expects that to fall into the attorney’s duties.

Congratulations to all in the start-up of the new Public Defender Office.