By SHEILA MECK HYDE
As a woman attorney who worked for William Coughlin in the Chautauqua County Public Defender's Office for many years, I have a different perspective to offer on Mr. Coughlin and his qualifications to be a judge.
When Mr. Coughlin was appointed public defender, I had never met him. He made the effort to meet with the attorneys in the office to evaluate the way that the office was functioning and to seek new ways to offer legal services at the most efficient cost. After a time of study of the operation, Mr. Coughlin separated the Criminal and Family Court Divisions, resulting in a substantial savings by eliminating many conflicts.
At that time, he promoted me to overseeing the cases in the Family Court Division and it was also around that time that some allegations were made. I understand that some settlement was reached, but people should realize that settlements are made for many reasons and unless you were present during negotiations - and I was not and neither were members of the press or public, assumptions should not be made. Although he is no longer my boss, Mr. Coughlin and I remain professional colleagues and I continue to have great respect for him.
Throughout my years of working for Mr. Coughlin, he always treated me with the utmost of professional courtesy and respect. I have been an attorney for 30 years and I have had many fine bosses and supervisors, but I can honestly say that Mr. Coughlin was one of the best. His expectations of the attorneys in the Public Defender's Office were that we represent our clients zealously and to the best of our abilities and that we be in court when scheduled and perform our jobs efficiently.
To the best of my knowledge, that was the standard applied to all of the attorneys. Whenever I had a problem or question, he addressed it with respect. To the best of my knowledge, during his tenure with the Public Defender's Office, it functioned well and efficiently, despite an ever-growing number of cases.
Anyone who knows Mr. Coughlin will tell you that he is a plain spoken, no-nonsense kind of person. Perhaps we need more judges with those qualities. He is also an excellent attorney and in my opinion, an excellent administrator.
In my opinion, he has an excellent temperament for being a judge and I know that he has always brought, and would bring, a wealth of knowledge and experience to any job that he undertakes.
Sheila Meck Hyde is a Silver Creek resident.