COLDWATR, MI (WTVB) - Branch County Commissioners Tuesday approved a Public Defender’s contract although it wasn’t a unanimous decision and didn’t happen until the Commission heard from Circuit Court Judge Bill O’Grady. The contract for District and Circuit Court for 2013 and 2014 stays with the offices of Goodwin, Renner, and Colbeck with a cost of 172-thousand dollars annually, the same as the previous contract. Commissioner Dale Swift of Bronson voted no on the agreement after his request to table the matter wasn’t approved.
The other bid considered was from the offices of Ives, Jewell and Colbeck at a lower cost of 156-thousand for 2013 and 163-thousand for 2014. Judge O’Grady said the courts have had great success with the incumbent attorneys so why change. He likened it to someone using a family physician for years when a new doctor arrives in town and all of sudden charges a little less than your long time doctor, are you going to change offices to just save a bit of money. Attorney Rhonda Ives last week addressed Commissioners and according to the meeting minutes, Ives said she had heard rumors around town that she would not have a shot at the contract because she is a female.
She felt she had been given unfair consideration and asked if everyone is afraid of change. Ives also contended the Judiciary making the decision on Public Defenders is not in the best interest of the county and asked that she be considered to save the County money.