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Broome County Is Now Central Location For Arraigning Defendants

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Broome County Jail Intake will now be the drop-off point for anyone awaiting arraignment in the county. Legislation signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo created this centralized booking location for Broome County, aiming to make sure defendants have a speedy arraignment if arrested off-hours and also limiting the amount of time police officers will spend waiting with defendants for a judge to be called in.

"This is going to save a lot of manpower," says Sheriff David Harder.

By authorizing the county jail as a centralized booking area, officers can hand defendants into the custody of the sheriff's department and go back out to answer more calls. The defendant will then wait in intake until one of two set times for arraignments: 8am and 8pm.

Public Defender Mike Baker says this also saves the county from having to hire more attorneys for his office. Under New York State law, defendants have the right to legal counsel at the earliest stages of a case, that being arraignment. Baker says he has 10 attorneys and there are 20 courts spread out across the county. 

"We would have had to hire at least four more public defenders," says Baker.

With this new system, Baker says his office will designate one attorney to handle the 8am arraignments at the jail and the rest of his lawyers will take turns covering the 8pm arraignments.

"It's a win-win for the community, as far as making sure people are properly represented, it's gonna save money in overtime costs and travel costs and it's going to put more law enforcement officers on the street," says Baker.

Baker says this is "phase 2" of the project, the county having tried an "on-call" system last year. Baker says this is a much better model, having the arraignments at specific times instead of having one of his defenders on call for most of the night.

There is no set start date for the new process yet, but Harder says it could be in place as soon as Monday January 14th.