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Oneida County names lead for public defender office’s criminal division

Tina Hartwell is the new lead of Oneida County’s Public Defender-Criminal Division. Hartwell began her career there in 2001. (Submitted photo/Oneida County)

“During the two-plus decades that Tina Hartwell has served Oneida County in the Public Defender-Criminal Division, she has supervised and managed attorneys and staff while gaining critical administrative knowledge,” Picente said. “She has also worked closely with New York State offices to advance quality representation for all indigent defendants through grants, database, and training. Tina is well-prepared for this new role as head public defender, and I am confident she will do a fine job leading the criminal division into a new era.”

Hartwell, who assumed her new role Sept. 19, began her career there in 2001. She spent 13 years as an assistant public defender in the major crimes division and three years in the city courts section. For the past five years, she also served as the criminal law director for the Regional Immigration Assistance Center Region 2, providing advice to defense attorneys in 16 counties throughout Central New York.

“I have dedicated my career to helping people who cannot afford an attorney navigate the criminal justice system through difficult times in their lives,” Hartwell said. “I am very fortunate to now be given this opportunity to lead an amazing group of attorneys and staff and continue the work of those before me who have served the people of Oneida County. I thank County Executive Picente for this honor, and I look forward to changing the lives of those who come through this office.”


Hartwell received her bachelor’s degree in political science and speech communication as well as a master’s degree in speech communication from Syracuse University. She possesses a juris doctorate from Albany Law School.

She is a member of the New York State and Oneida County bar associations, the Women’s Bar Association of New York, the New York State Defenders Association, the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Hartwell replaces Frank Nebush, who retired as head of the Public Defender-Criminal Division in December 2020 after 39 years in the position. Assistant Public Defender Leland McCormick served as acting head between Nebush and Hartwell.


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