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Joe Saia, Fayette Co. public defender, dies

Long-time defense attorney Joe Saia, who most recently served as the Chief Public Defender for Fayette County, has passed away, The Citizen has confirmed.

Saia fell ill while on vacation in June in North Carolina and had to be hospitalized for treatment of heart congestion; he had quadruple bypass surgery.

Saia has been under medical care ever since, undergoing at least six different surgeries and spending some time in a rehabilitation facility, as he fought back other various medical issues that cropped up. State public defender employees across the state have donated their sick leave to help the family, and a fund was established to help defray medical expenses at any United Community bank branch.

As soon as funeral arrangements are made we will publish them here at



Joe Saia was one of the good guys. He worked hard for all of his clients
and when he became Fayette's public defender he continued to represent his
clients with the utmost integrity. As a person he was one of the nicest
people I've ever met. He was a great father to 3 children, 2 stepchildren
and a loving husband to his wife, Pam. He was a wonderful neighbor and I can't help but think the world was a better place with Joe in it. Joe will be missed.

Philip Coe's picture

I am so saddened to hear of Joe's passing. He was a great lawyer and a true gentleman.

cogitoergofay's picture

Joe Saia, I believe, conducted himself with decency and respect for his position. He was loyal to his clients and a decent man.

In a time of doubt, Joe served us well.

May he rest in peace.

I too had some dealings with Joe and found him to be an honorable and upright guy.
When I was on the Fayette County Commission, we had many people to work with at budget time. Joe was the first one from his area who I believed was telling us the real story of his Department. Prior to his starting, we had had many difficulties there.
Farewell Joe.

secret squirrel's picture

I had the honor of knowing Joe Saia and his family for almost 25 years. He embodied what was noble and honorable about the law. His zealous and unbiased representation of his clients despite the crimes with which they had been accused or convicted exemplified what is best about the American legal system. He often had to speak for people who had been involved with some of the most heinous and morally repugnant offenses- crimes which no doubt were an affront to the kind of devoted family man Joe was in his heart. He nonetheless worked ardently within the bounds of the law to fulfill his professional responsibilities. This community has lost a great defender of civil liberties and a man dedicated to his family and respected by his colleagues and opponents alike.

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