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Attorney Joseph B. Mistrett has been named the chief federal public defender for Western New York, overseeing the defense of hundreds of indigent defendants in Buffalo and Rochester each year.

"He's an excellent attorney who is respected throughout the court system," said Chief U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara, who announced the appointment.

Mistrett, 59, has held the post in an acting capacity since Jan. 1, when his predecessor, William G. Clauss, left to take a job in the education field.

The position pays $134,000 annually.

The Federal Public Defenders Office has 22 employees in Buffalo and Rochester, including eight trial lawyers. The office handles about 700 cases a year.

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