Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton has selected nominees for two vacant division head positions that must be filled by attorneys — Kingston resident Steven M. Greenwald for chief public defender and C. David Pedri for chief county solicitor.
Council must confirm division head nominations under home rule and might vote on these recommendations Tuesday. The attorneys would each receive $90,000 annually and cannot have outside legal practices.
Current Chief Public Defender Al Flora had applied. County Assistant Solicitor Vito DeLuca, who has been performing the chief solicitor duties under home rule, did not apply because he did not want to give up private practice.
Greenwald, 53, is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University and the Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles.
Born and raised in Kingston, Greenwald has been a county assistant public defender since 1994, handling a wide range of felony and misdemeanor cases, Lawton said.
“His tenure has provided the opportunity to carry out virtually every duty required of a practicing attorney in the Public Defender’s Office.”
Greenwald also has handled criminal and civil litigation in private practice since 1985, Lawton said.
A married father of three, Greenwald said he sought the position because he has nearly two decades of experience in the office. His resume said he handled “well over” 2,500 cases as an assistant public defender, including 40 to 50 jury trials.
“I see this as a chance to continue on in that progression,” he said.
Eight attorneys applied for the position, and six met minimum qualifications. The initial interview panel — Kingston Mayor and attorney James Haggerty, former county Judge Joseph VanJura and county Chief Engineer Joe Gibbons — forwarded three unranked applicants to Lawton for his consideration and further interview.
Pedri, 33, is a graduate of St. Joseph’s University and the Temple University School of Law, both in Philadelphia.
He worked as an assistant district attorney and deputy district attorney in the county for seven years, participating in more than 40 trials and attaining a 95 percent conviction rate, Lawton said. As deputy, he addressed internal matters and implemented operational policies in the office, which has 68 employees and three collective bargaining units. He also served as the office’s first Right-to-Know officer.
Pedri also has been an adjunct faculty member at Misericordia University, Luzerne County Community College and the McCann School of Business and Technology. He is managing partner of the Pedri Law Office in Hazleton. Pedri said his father Charles, also an attorney, will assume management of Pedri Law.
Born and raised in Hazleton, Pedri said he applied for chief solicitor because he wants to perform a leadership role in the new home rule government. He said he already has repeatedly examined the charter and its requirements.
“The fact that it’s a brand new government is exciting. I’d like to help steer the county where I choose to raise my family,” said Pedri, who is married and the father of two.
Pedri said his courtroom experience could benefit the county.
“If a county matter comes to trial, I’m not afraid to stand up for the county in a courtroom,” he said.
Three of the four chief solicitor applicants met minimum qualifications, and an interview panel forwarded all three to Lawton for his consideration. Former county Judge Joseph Cosgrove, former Lackawanna County solicitor John O’Brien and Gibbons served on the panel.
If confirmed, Greenwald and Pedri will start work on or around April 29.
A council majority confirmed Lawton’s nominee of Richard M. Cardamone as head of the budget and financial services division last week.
Lawton said he wants to submit nominations for the five remaining division head positions — judicial services and records, as well as administrative, correctional, operational and human services — to council for its possible approval at the April 23 meeting.