- Rich Klein
GALLIGAN NAMES BRIAN CONATY AS CHIEF ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY
Updated: Dec 10, 2022
District Attorney Meagan Galligan today officially appointed Brian P. Conaty as Sullivan County's Chief Assistant District Attorney, a first step before he's expected to become Acting DA once there is finality in Galligan's Third Judicial District race.
Galligan should know officially by Tuesday if she is one of the three candidates to join the bench in the Third Judicial District following a mandatory hand recount in the boards of elections in seven counties. She told Ciliberto & Friends earlier today: "Fingers crossed."
Conaty, who joined the DA's office in November 2018 as an Assistant District Attorney, recently attended a meeting of the Sullivan County Democratic Committee, likely to build support for a future election to become District Attorney. That election would be held in November 2023.
Meagan Galligan, seen here at a Sullivan County Democratic party rally in Hurleyville last month that included a historic visit by former President Bill Clinton
Assistant County Attorney Brian Conaty (photo from his LinkedIn profile)
Brian Conaty, second from left, was sworn in as chief assistant district attorney today. He was joined by Sheriff Michael Schiff, County Clerk Russell Reeves and DA Galligan (photo from Sullivan County Government)
Once Galligan's election to judge is official, Conaty - at age 30 - would become the youngest person in Sullivan County history to lead the DA's office. He received his law degree from Touro University Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in 2017.
Conaty's rise to becoming the chief law enforcement officer of Sullivan is remarkable. Eleven years ago this month, he was a passenger in a motor vehicle accident in Lumberland, airlifted to Westchester Medical Center and in critical condition.
(According to media reports from that time, the driver, a friend of Conaty's, was under under the influence of alcohol. One other passenger died in the crash. Conaty's father, Philip, a retired local attorney, told the court at the time that he did not want the driver to be sentenced to jail, over the objections of then-DA Jim Farrell).
Conaty will lead an office that needs rehabilitation. That's largely because It has been short staffed following the departures of multiple Assistant District Attorneys and staff since Galligan took over the office: first as Acting DA, in January 2020 and then as DA after winning election to the position in November 2020.
Galligan has also complained repeatedly to the County Legislature, including as recently as Thursday, that her ADAs are vastly underpaid compared to other counties of the same size and that has hampered recruitment and retention. (Galligan also lobbied the Legislature to not remove a critical DA investigator position from her office, an argument she prevailed on by the time the Legislature approved its 2023 budget yesterday).
But despite the legitimate salary complaints, at least two former senior ADA's left the DA's office under Galligan for the County Attorney's Office, including Robert Zangla who took a significant pay cut to work for County Attorney Michael McGuire.
Zangla was a chief assistant district attorney under former DA Jim Farrell (before Galligan) but then left Sullivan for a job in the Albany DA's office before returning to work briefly under Galligan.
The only other known candidate for Acting DA before press time was Thomas Cawley, a former ADA himself under then-DA Steve Lungen. Cawley has spent much of his career in the County Attorney's Office under Sam Yasgur, Cheryl McCausland and currently, with McGuire.
Previous candidates mentioned as possible replacements for Galligan included private practice attorneys Jared Hart, John Ferrara and Karen Mannino.