MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County’s District Attorney has hired someone who is not eligible for employment because they do not live within the county.
The Post-Journal is reporting that on Friday, County Court Judge David Foley ruled that First Assistant District Attorney Michael Flaherty has been ruled “not qualified” to serve due to a residency requirement for public officials who work in the District Attorney’s office.
Foley delivered the ruling Friday after Christopher Belling, Chautauqua County counsel assistant district attorney, suggested some legal opinions argue that Flaherty does not have to be a resident of Chautauqua County since he is not in line to succeed District Attorney Patrick Swanson.
Without an exemption that 17 counties and all New York City boroughs have obtained, the state Public Officers Law states attorneys can originate from other areas and be hired in other county offices under the condition that they move to the county in which they work.
Last week a resolution requesting the legislature waive the residency requirement for up to four ADAs was taken up by the County Legislature but was defeated down a party-line vote of 12 to 5 by Republicans. The current DA is a Democrat.
In his ruling on Friday Foley cited article three of Public Officers Law in New York as basis for his ruling and reinforcement of state law that requires all ADAs to have residency if not exempt from the law.
In a follow up story by the Post-Journal, Swanson said he will continue to work on gaining the exemption from the state law, so his current and future ADAs can work in his office even if they are not current residents of the county.
On Monday morning WRFA reached out to Swanson and asked if any ADA in his office who is not a resident of Chautauqua County will no longer be able to work on cases, based on Judge Foley’s ruling as well as if he is concerned that if the ADA continues working in his office, if it will be viewed as his office violating state law.
In response, Swanson told WRFA, “This is a pending matter and I cannot comment further.”