ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Frank Pierce has assumed the role of public defender for Belmont County, stepping into the shoes of Eric Costine who resigned the position following his election as Judge of Belmont County Western Division Court.
Pierce was recently appointed by the Public Defender's Commission.
Prior to working with the defender's office, he served as Belmont County prosecuting attorney for 16 years. He has also served as a fraud investigator at the Belmont County Department of Job and Family Services.
"I think the transition will be seamless," Pierce said, noting the presence of two experienced staff members, including Robert Quirk, who has been hired to take on Pierce's former role. "We have good relations with all the courts and with the prosecutor's office. We will do our best to represent each client with the same advocacy as if they were paying us privately."
He added that his office considers its defense attorneys to be Constitutional officers, since the right to counsel is specified in the founding document.
Pierce will begin his term on Jan. 1.
DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleader online.com