Warren’s new Assistant Public Defender

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Assistant Public Defender Mike Kitay

Mike Kitay has joined the Warren County Public Defender’s office as the county’s assistant public defender.

Kitay was born and raised out west – Arizona and New Mexico – before moving to the Philadelphia area.

He obtained a degree in journalism from Temple University and graduated this May from Penn State Law.

“I selected Mike because he not only brings an impressive resume with a successful internship at the Bucks County Public Defender’s office, but has a genuine interest in public service,” Chief Public Defender John Parroccini said. “While anyone with a law degree could be a criminal defense attorney, he seems to have the social worker gene that public defenders must have to effectively represent their clients. I think he will be a great addition, not only to my office, but to the Warren community.”

So what makes a fresh-out-of-law-school attorney jump at an opportunity to work as a public defender?

“There’s nothing in my life specifically but… that’s the way I feel I can make a difference in the law,” Kitay said. “I see a lot of my classmates who don’t know what they want or want to get into it for the money. I pretty much knew that I wanted to help people who can’t help themselves.”

He spoke about a need for the criminal justice system to focus more on rehabilitation than punishment.

Kitay has completed internships with public defenders offices in Philadelphia and in Bucks County.

He said he got “a glance at what it looks like in those counties. Now I see what it is like in a smaller county; definitely different types of crimes… (but) it’s the same issues. The same problems with money that kind of put a halt to progress.

“I think that this is definitely a place where, the public defender’s office, you have to really like the work you’re doing or the purpose why you’re there.

“As of right now. That is my goal – to really help the community out…. Being a public defender, you can really communicate with your clients, realize what kind of reasons are driving their conduct in a sense. Try to get in there and point them in a different direction. Do what we can to help.”

Kitay said his job search focused on small and medium sized counties.

“I feel like Warren is a good fit,” he said.