MAYVILLE – Two employees in the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office have been taken off the payroll following a recent ruling in Chautauqua County Court.
According to the Post-Journal, Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello (R) said that two employees were taken off the payroll effective Thursday due to conflicts with state residency laws.
The action comes after Judge David Foley (R) ruled Nov. 30 that Assistant District Attorney Michael Flaherty was unqualified to serve in his position due to state law requiring all ADAs be residents of the county where they work, unless a waiver is granted by the state legislature.
During the Chautauqua County Legislature’s November meeting, County district attorney Patrick Swanson (D) requested the legislature support a waiver application so he could hire up to four ADAs that live outside of Chautauqua County, but that effort was voted down along party lines, with all 12 Republicans in attendance voting against the resolution.
Since then it was learned that Swanson had already hired two attorneys from Erie County as ADAs.
Swanson reportedly said he has faith that others in his office will be able to cover the work of those whose pay was suspended while he works to receive a waiver.
Meanwhile, Chautauqua County Legislator and Public Safety Committee Chairman Terry Niebel (R-Dunkirk) has called the news that Swanson would hire an ADA from outside of Chautauqua County a stunning development, saying that Swanson has knowingly been violating the law. He also said that as chief law enforcement officer of the county, Swanson should not be able to choose which laws he follows.
Niebel and other Republicans on the legislature voted down Swanson’s request for waiver support, saying there should be a better effort of recruiting within the county before going beyond the borders to seek ADAs.
Swanson has said he only wants to hire the best qualified candidates for openings in his office and those candidates sometimes from neighboring Erie County.