ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — After a year of back-and-forth, Monroe County will now have a public defender, according to the office of Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. But the new defender faces challenges to her legitimacy.
Julie Cianca has been sworn in Wednesday following a Tuesday vote to approve her as the nominee, representatives said.
However, Republican legislators and Democratic President Sabrina LaMar claim that the vote to approve Cianca Tuesday was not legal, because the issue had not passed out of committee. In a Wednesday statement, LaMar said she is consulting with legal counsel on next steps.
“We will comment further once she has determined the best course of action,” the statement reads. “This illegal act cannot be allowed to stand.”
Tuesday evening, LaMar’s office likened the vote to the January 6 attacks on the capitol, arguing the move will not stand under county policy.
“In Washington, Republicans storm the Capital when they can’t legally get their way; In Monroe County, Legislature Democrats storm the Chambers when they can’t legally get their way,” the statement reads. “The perpetrator’s illegally desired outcome did not work on January 6th, and will not here in Monroe County on November 15th.”
For the past year, county legislators have fought over who will replace Tim Donaher as public defender. Cianca has worked in the public defender’s office for years and had the support of the legislature’s Democratic caucus. She along with Buffalo attorney Robert Fogg were finalists for the job.
Due to a schism among local Democrats, LaMar agreed to caucus with the Republicans allowing them to retain their majority. In July, LaMar announced her support for Fogg, and spoke confidently at the time about the legislature supporting her decision.
“While I support Julie Cianca in this position, it is clear the legality of the meeting is in dispute,” Democratic legislator Rachel Barnhart said in a statement Wednesday. It’s extremely troubling that the legislature is so dysfunctional that there is a possibility this will be settled in the courts instead of all of us working together on a resolution.”