ELIZABETHTOWN - In early January, Lake Placid resident Brandon Boutelle was appointed to chief public defender for Essex County after the sudden death of longtime public defender Livingston "Livy" Hatch of Willsboro.
Boutelle accepted a salary of $92,000 and a two-year term in the seat. His appointment received final approval from the Board of Supervisors in February.
He has ben serving under Hatch as deputy public defender since January of 2005.
Boutelle had only positive things to say about the work of his well-respected predecessor and said he appreciated the opportunity to work with someone with over 40 years of law experience.
"I don't know if I can fill his shoes, but I'm going to try," Boutelle said.
Boutelle is a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology with a criminal-justice degree. He received his law degree from Albany Law School in 2000. Before coming to the public defender office, Boutelle worked with McPhillips, Fitzgerald & Cullum, L.L.P. in Glens Falls.
Boutelle also served as a commissioned officer in the Navy JAG Corps, where he worked on defense in court marshal cases. He recently returned from Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp on active duty as a military defense attorney. He also served four years on active duty with the U.S. Navy's Judge Advocate General's Corps.
The public defender office sees heavy case loads that have been handled solely by Boutelle since Hatch's passing. He recently appointed former Rensselaer County Assistant District Attorney Robert D. Seymour to assist as Essex County's new deputy public defender.
The position has been vacant since Boutelle moved up to chief public defender and he welcomes the help.
"We received over a dozen resumes. There was a lot of diversity and a good range of experience," Boutelle said.
The interview process narrowed it to two attorneys and Seymour started in late March on a salary of $58,000 a year.
Seymour is originally from Malone and recently moved to Lake Placid.
"He has North Country roots and thorough knowledge of the area," said Boutelle.
Seymour commented that the transition from prosecutor to defender has been an adjustment.
"The legal aspect is the same, I'm just on the other side now," he said. "The process is different, but my experience as a former prosecutor has been invaluable."