The explosive growth in the caseload for the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy’s Warren County office has led to growth in the department’s headquarters in the Warren County Justice Center.
Warren Fiscal Court in January approved $17,500 for C&P Construction to renovate the former offices of U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie on the third floor of the Justice Center on Center Street.
That work is nearly complete, and it will give the public advocacy office’s attorneys and investigators the room they need to handle a caseload that is among the highest of the state’s 33 public advocacy offices.
The Warren County public advocacy office provides legal representation for indigent people accused of crimes in Allen, Butler, Edmonson, Simpson and Warren counties.
“This region is growing, and that means our caseload keeps going up,” said James Rhorer, directing attorney for the Warren County office. “We have one of the highest caseloads per attorney in the state.”
Rhorer said his office has 12 attorneys, two investigators and two alternative sentencing workers. It has been approved for a 13th attorney because of the caseload growth.
“Anything that carries jail time in those five counties, we can be appointed,” Rhorer said. “The caseload keeps going up, and we don’t have enough space in our current offices. It was absolutely imperative that we expand.”
He said the Warren County office will average about 530 cases per attorney in a typical year, making it one of the busiest in the state.
Rhorer said the public advocacy office was next door to Guthrie’s Bowling Green office until about three years ago, when Guthrie’s office moved to Wilkinson Trace.
“It’s space that hadn’t been used for a few years,” Rhorer said. “It has been remodeled to suit our needs.”
Rhorer said his office “had people working in the hallways” as its workload and staff grew.
He’s looking forward to the larger quarters.
“We’ll be able to get people out of the hallways,” he said. “They’re still doing some final touches and moving some furniture in. In two or three weeks it should be 100 percent completed.”
Rhorer said Warren Fiscal Court will be reimbursed by the state Department of Public Advocacy for the cost of remodeling the extra office space.