The county’s law firm

A recent increase of criminal cases in the Albany County court system is preventing the County Attorney’s Office from working on civil cases for the county government such as creating contracts and providing legal input for the county’s agencies.

To address the lack of representation the office has provided the county, the Albany County Commission discussed using a case management program for agencies to submit legal requests, Albany County Prosecuting Attorney Peggy Trent said. The program would help her office better manage the civil requests and help decide which cases to work on as the county continues to handle criminal court cases, she said.

“Where we are at with prosecution, is critical, and by me taking on a docket, it is cutting into our civil case load,” Trent said. “Right now, I provide legal services for 25 agencies … as a result of that, (I have to) prioritize, find the time and balance a docket criminally to help out my staff.”

Because the Attorney’s Office represents all of the county’s boards and offices the County Attorney sometimes receives many at once and the new system would help determine where to start, she said. Legal requests are submitted through the case management program and are prioritized and made available for the County Commission to see, Trent said.

“All of their legal requests come in and they will be prioritized and the commissioners will have a better understanding of all the legal issues that are pending within the county,” she said. “We have over 150 legal projects going on, so each department will be provided with what is going on legally that we are looking at.”

Under previous county prosecuting attorney administrations, it was common for the County Commission to not be provided with legal information of county activity in a timely manner, Trent said. With the new program, that would no longer be a problem for the commission because it would have access to that information she said.

“This provides the commissioners, as my client, more accountability so they know what we are working on,” Trent said. “(In previous administrations), there was a beef with the commissioners as to where legal services have been provided to you timely, have they been following through and what they were doing.”

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