Cumberland County's Public Defenders

Michael Halkias, Esq Chief 2005--Dickinson School of Law 
Linda S. Hollinger, Esq. First Assistant 1994--Dickinson School of Law
Arla M. Waller, Esq. Deputy 1990--Washington College of Law of the American University
John M. Shugars, Esq. Deputy 1985--Whittier School of Law
F. Clay Merris IV, Esq. Senior Assistant 2010--Widener University School of Law
Sean M. Owen, Esq. Senior Assistant 2012--Quinnipiac University School of Law
Joshua M. Yohe, Esq. Assistant 2009--Dickinson School of Law
Bradon Toomey, Esq. Assistant 2014--Dickinson School of Law
Alison Browdie, Esq. Assistant 1995--State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law
Ron Turo, Esq. Juvenile 1981--Dickinson School of Law

Are public defenders real lawyers?

YES. Every attorney in the Public Defender Office is a graduate of an accredited law school, and admitted by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to practice in the Courts of Pennsylvania. At times, and with the written consent of the client, student attorneys from a local law school may represent a client. This is done under the supervision of a staff attorney.

Public Defenders gain experience in criminal law very quickly due to their emphasis on criminal defense work. The attorneys in the Public Defender Office have from 3 to 34 years of experience practicing law.