David Dunn, longtime lead public defender with the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit, is leaving his post and will enter private practice with a Summerville law firm. The circuit includes Walker, Catoosa, Dade and Chattooga counties.

Dunn addressed the Catoosa County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night, June 2, during its regular meeting.

“Just almost exactly 16 years ago I showed up in front of this commission the first time as the circuit public defender newly appointed,” Dunn said. “And we created this (public defender) program, this new endeavor.

“Over the last 16 years I’ve devoted myself to that,” he said. “And I think we’ve created one of the best offices anywhere in the state of Georgia. It’s not just me saying that. I base that on what other people more knowledgeable than me have told me.”

Dunn said he’s retiring as the circuit public defender at the end of June. The circuit’s chief assistant public defender, Jad Johnson, will serve as interim circuit public defender, Dunn said, expressing his hope that Johnson will be appointed to the job permanently.

“He’s worked with us since the very beginning of the program,” Dunn said. “He’s a fine lawyer, a very capable public defender and he’ll see you right.”

Dunn projected that the next year or two will be challenging for the public defender program “from a fiscal perspective on the local level and also on the state level.”

“They’re already talking about a 14 percent cut in the budget for next year,” he said, “which as you know, that’s devastating when 80 percent of your budget is personnel, which is where we’re at. So there are going to be a lot of challenges, a lot of difficulties.”

Dunn said he plans to join Cook & Connelly law firm in Summerville while continuing to live in Ringgold.

“I hope that I’ll be doing a lot of work in and around Catoosa County on a continuing basis,” Dunn said.

“I’m out there if you ever need me for anything, any kind of assistance or any kind of work that might come up that you think I can help with,” Dunn told the commissioners. “Please don’t hesitate to call on me and I hope my successor — if it’s Jad or whoever it is — enjoys the same success and support that you’ve given me over these years.”

“I’ve only had the opportunity to work with you for four years,” Commission Chairman Steven Henry said, “but I have enjoyed serving with you. It’s been a pleasure.”

Don Stilwell is editor for The Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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