The Lawrence County commissioners want some answers before approving agreements with lawyers to handle criminal cases.

Under the proposed one-year agreements, four lawyers -- Michael Frisk, William Panella, Joseph Kearney and Brandt Bythrow -- would be assigned criminal cases in which attorneys from the public defender's office may have a conflict. Murder cases would be excluded from the agreements.

Each lawyer would be paid $20,000 for the one-year period beginning Jan. 1.

Commissioner Steve Craig said at the board's work session Dec. 22 that he doesn't have a problem with any of the lawyers, but wants more information about the contract costs and whether four lawyers are needed.

The commissioners said they plan to talk with President Judge Dominick Motto or court administrator Michael Occhibone about the agreements.

They also want to talk with Motto or Occhibone about a proposal to renew a lease agreement for the office occupied by District Judge David Rishel on New Butler Road.

Under the six-year agreement with Edward G. Gealy and Diana L. Gealy of Patton Road, the county's total rent would be $86,106. The rent would be payable in monthly installments of $1,195.92.

County administrator James Gagliano said the new lease represents a $400 increase over the current agreement.

Craig said he believes the price is reasonable, but wants to know whether the county has other options. He suggested it may be less expensive in the long run for the district judge to be in a county owned building.

The new lease would run from Jan. 1, 2006, through Dec. 31, 2011.

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