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January 10, 2020 - 3:34pm

District Attorney working to get to full staff even before sudden resignation of top assistant

posted by Howard B. Owens in District Attorney's Office, news, notify.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman is currently managing an office with five vacancies at a time when the workload has increased because of changes in state law around how evidence is handled but he said everything is under control.

As first reported by The Batavian last night, First Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini resigned, apparently without notice, yesterday. 

Last week, ADA Shirley Gorman announced her departure at the end of the month to take another job.  Meanwhile, Friedman is anticipating filling a new ADA position in 2020 plus a part-time ADA.

The new positions were authorized by the County Legislature for the 2020 budget to help the DA's office deal with the state's new rules reporting evidence disclosure to defendants. 

While in the budget, Friedman must get authorization to advertise the positions. He will make presentations to the Public Service Committee on Jan. 13, Ways and Means on Jan. 15, with a vote for the full Legislature coming on Jan. 22.

"It has proven to be a challenge to find good candidates for vacancies, not only in our office but in other law departments in Genesee county and in other counties," Friedman said.

One new ADA has already been selected and will begin work Jan. 27.

The current DA's staff: ADAs Kevin Finnell, Shirley Gorman, Kaitlynn Schmit, and Joseph Robinson. The support staff is made up of confidential secretary Lacie Snell, paralegal Gabrielle Montalbano, legal clerk-typist Katie Schrider, legal clerk-typist Rhonda Natalizia, and legal clerk-typist Andrea Agan.

As for hiring a new First ADA, Friedman said he will have an announcement about that "very soon."

The departure of Cianfrini, who was the heir apparent for the DA's job, won't affect Friedman's retirement plans he said. His term expires on Dec. 31, 2021. He said he has no comment on next year's DA election.

Friedman said even under current conditions, the current staff is getting the job done.

"We are dealing with the workload in the interim by constantly adapting, working extra hours and coming up with new ways to meet our deadlines," Friedman said. "I am very proud of every member of our dedicated and talented staff, who have all been constantly assuming new and challenging responsibilities relating to the unreasonable and ill-conceived Discovery obligations recently imposed on us by the State of New York.

"Everyone in this office is working under a great deal of pressure, yet keeping a positive attitude. We have a great team! While the State, as is typical, has foisted yet another unfunded mandate on us, the Genesee County Legislature, the County Manager, the Batavia City Council and the City Manager have educated themselves re: our needs and they have all been totally supportive of our office at this very difficult time."

Photo: Lawrence Friedman, 2011 file photo.

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