|Phil Lauer (L) and Vic Scomillio (R) will provide legal advice to Council and the Executive|
Though it's a 5-4 divided body with a new president, things were both smooth and fast at the first real meeting of Northampton County Council on January 9. In her new role as President, Peg Ferraro started things off with a prayer. It appears her prayer was answered. Executive John Brown's choice for County Solicitor, Bethlehem Attorney Victor E. Scomillio, was unanimously confirmed. In addition, Council unanimously agreed to hang on to their own lawyer, Phil Lauer.
Scomillio, who has been practicing law since 1997, is a partner at the Boyer, Holzinger Harack and Scomillio law firm on Linden Street. An avid Lacrosse player and coach, Vic got his start as a clerk to Judge Robert E. Simpson. He is a past President of the Northampton County Bar Association. He will be paid $58,060 per year for this part-time position
The only assistant solicitor Scomillio will retain is David Backenstoe. He intends to run the office entirely with part-time staff, in contrast to the approach taken under former executive John Stoffa.
In addition to being Solicitor, Brown has designated Scomillio as Acting Executive in the event some emergency prevents Brown from serving.
Lauer, who like Scomillio is a graduate of Dickinson Law School, has been practicing law for over forty years, and is reputed to be among the top criminal defense attorneys in the state. He has been County Council's Solicitor since 2010. He will be paid $52,405 per year for this part-time position.
After they were confirmed, Council member Mat Benol noted that he just saw a memo concerning a lawsuit involving Council and the Executive, and suggested they "put it to rest." He noted that when different branches of the government sue each other, the taxpayers lose.
One nomination that interestingly was not discussed at this meeting was Brown's pick for Chief Public Defender, Bob Sletvold. He is married to Jennifer Sletvold, who was elected Judge in November. President Judge Stephen Baratta has determined that, to avoid the appearance of impropriety, she will be unable to hear any matter involving the Public Defender's office.
In her first day on the bench, Judge Sletvold was unable to hear several Protection From Abuse (PFA) Contempt petitions, in which indigent defendants have the right to a public defender. Those natters were heard by a different judge.