Eighty-second District State Representative Charles Siler (R-Williamsburg) was honored Thursday for his role in fending off state budget cuts that would have led to layoffs and a reduction of resources for the Department of Public Advocacy.
Siler was presented with a framed, decorative version of the Kentucky Bill of Rights by members of the Department of Public Advocacy who said his strong support for fairness in Kentucky’s judicial system deserved attention.
"We are presenting Representative Siler with this award for advancing public safety in 2009, along with his 19 years in the General Assembly, making sure the criminal justice system keeps its doors open and making sure all the players in the criminal justice system have funding in order to do their roles properly," said Ed Monahan, Public Advocate for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. "It’s clear that’s you can’t prosecute someone who is too poor to afford and attorney. The Department of Public Advocacy very proudly, every day, represents many clients who are overcharged, and some of whom are innocent."
Siler said he learned an appreciation for criminal justice during his time in the U.S. Army when he was a court reporter for the International Military Tribunal of the Far East. He said his decision to fight budget cuts to the DPA and Commonwealth’s Attorneys and County Attorneys was "one of principal."
"I would not adhere to the cuts that were being made across the board … Everyone is entitled to a fair defense. You can’t have that if you have unequal representation in front of a judge."
Roger Gibbs, Eastern Regional Director for the DPA, said the cuts would have caused public defenders to take on an average of over 500 clients each – a move that would have meant inadequate defense.
Siler was presented the award Thursday during a special ceremony held at the Cumberland Inn in Williamsburg.