SCRANTON -- Luzerne County’s Chief Public Defender Al Flora has withdrawn a federal lawsuit he filed against the county that sought to protect himself from being fired after he filed a separate lawsuit seeking more funding for his office.
Flora’s attorney, Mary Catherine Roper of the American Civil Liberties Union, said Flora opted to withdraw the federal case because it no longer appears to be necessary given that no action has been taken against him.
Flora filed the federal suit on April 10, the same day he filed a class-action lawsuit against the county in county court. The county case, which remains pending, alleges a lack of funding for his office has caused a severe staffing shortage that’s resulted in the constitutional rights of indigent defendants being violated.
The county and Flora had been negotiating a settlement to the county suit, but discussions recently broke down. Both sides are awaiting a trial date to be set by the court.
Roper said the withdrawal of the federal lawsuit will allow Flora to concentrate on the county case.
“It seemed unnecessary to continue the (federal) suit that was about past events. Instead we wanted to focus on moving forward,” Roper said.
County Manager Robert Lawton is in the process of interviewing candidates for chief public defender, which is one of the positions that became open under the county’s transition to a home-rule form of government. Flora has applied for that position.