With his wife and their two children by his side, Douglas Hartig took his oath of office as the CNMI's new public defender in a ceremony on Capital Hill yesterday morning. Hartig, who has been assistant public defender since 1999, now heads the agency that defends indigent clients facing criminal charges.
Gov. Eloy S. Inos administered the oath for Hartig, three days after the Senate confirmed the latter's nomination by a vote of 8-0.
“I think Governor Inos, the Public Defender's Office and the people of [the CNMI], who deserve a dedicated, hardworking public defender and I just hope that I'm up for the task and that I can deliver whatever one deserves,” Hartig told reporters.
He thanked former governor Benigno R. Fitial for nominating him, the Senate for confirming his nomination, and the new governor “for his continued support and faith in my ability to do this job.”
The Public Defender's Office has been making do with limited resources. It does not even have a vehicle of its own and is down to four assistant public defenders from seven a few years back.
Hartig said yesterday that the Public Defender's Office will continue to cut costs, which was initiated by his predecessor Adam Hardwicke.
“.But frankly, at this point, we're so thin and so barebones I think the only thing we can do is hopefully get some more funding for the office, either through grants or through an increased budget from this administration. I think we should have some optimism that there will be more money coming in, that tourism is apparently on its way up. I know that this administration is making some changes and adjustments on revenue generating [measures] so we just need to be optimistic.and hope for the best,” he said.
Hartig's oath-taking was one of the highlights of the governor's news briefing yesterday.
Besides Hartig's wife Heather Kennedy and their children 10-year-old Shea and 8-year-old Conall, also witnessing the ceremony were Hartig's friends and colleagues at the Public Defender's Office, Cabinet members, lawmakers and tourism industry stakeholders.