Ulster County Executive Ryan appoints new public defender

Lauren Sheeley

Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan announced today the appointment of Lauren Sheeley to be the new public defender. Sheeley, who has served as first assistant county attorney since September 2019, previously worked as the attorney in charge of Legal Services of the Hudson Valley.

Sheeley earned her Juris Doctor from Albany Law School and has a B.S. in Business Administration from Mount Ida College. She is a member of the Ulster County Bar Association and on the Board of Directors of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center. She currently resides in Red Hook and will be relocating to Ulster County upon confirmation. 

“Lauren has dedicated her career to successfully protecting our most vulnerable residents,” County Executive Pat Ryan said in a release. “Her work with Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center, and in the Ulster County Attorney’s office has shown her commitment and dedication to our community. I am looking forward to working with Lauren to ensure justice for the residents of Ulster County.”


“Having dedicated most of my career to fighting for the rights of impoverished and marginalized people, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to provide high quality legal counsel and effective representation as the Ulster County Public Defender,” said Sheeley.

The release announcing the appointment included additional praise:

“When you see Lauren with clients or in meetings, her passion for justice is obvious,” Chief Program Officer of Legals Services of the Hudson Valley Rachel Chazin Halperin said. “She is fearless in the face of opposition and believes to her core that all people – regardless of their income, race, gender, sexual orientation and disability should have equal access to justice. Lauren is kind, strong, professional, and dedicated to her community and helping indigent clients.”

“I was impressed with Ms. Sheeley from the moment that I met her. Her commitment to advocating and protecting indigent individuals and families was apparent at the first meeting and continued through many programs we worked on together,” Executive Director of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center Jeff Rindler said. “You would be hard pressed to find someone more committed to individuals and families in Ulster County, and someone who is as bright, hardworking, and a pleasure to work with.” 

“I have come to know Ms. Sheeley to be a great leader and tenacious advocator. I believe she has a strong dedication to both Ulster County and to low-income individuals and families to hold in this position and serve the community,” City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble said. “With the help of Ms. Sheeley’s legal work, the City of Kingston funded eviction prevention assistance at the Kingston City Court. Ms. Sheeley worked extremely hard to secure that funding and delivered an excellent program that helped keep community members in their homes.

“Over the years I have had the opportunity to observe Ms. Sheeley representing individuals pro bono in the courts,” Acting-President of the Ulster County Bar Association Al Mainetti said. “I have also had the pleasure of sitting with Ms. Sheeley on the Board of the Ulster County Bar Association of which I am acting President. I find Ms. Sheeley to be highly professional, intelligent, and confident both in and outside of the courtroom. Ms. Sheeley has also dedicated many years of her career towards helping low-income individuals living and families living in Ulster County working for Legal Services of the Hudson Valley.”

“I have worked with Lauren for the last seven years on the Ulster County Department of Social Services Advisory Board, the Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Council, and the Ulster County Continuum of Care (CoC),” Executive Director of Family of Woodstock/New Paltz Michael Berg. “In her position as Vice Chair of CoC, I worked very closely with her and am aware of her commitment to Ulster County and those most vulnerable.”

The Public Defender’s Office provides legal representation to indigent clients in the criminal courts and Family Court in Ulster County. It also provides representation at the Appellate level for criminal and family court cases.

This appointment is subject to confirmation by the Ulster County Legislature. 


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