DA looks to shuffle staffing to deal with increased case load

NORWICH – If the District Attorney’s office doesn’t make room for one more full-time prosecutor, “something bad is going to happen,” the top assistant DA told county legislators Wednesday.

District Attorney Joseph McBride is asking that the county permit him to replace two of his four part-time assistant DA’s with one full-time prosecutor.

First Assistant DA Robert Larkin, representing McBride, told the county’s Safety and Rules Committee Wednesday that a recent surge in crime has created a backlog of pending felony cases and office paperwork. The addition of a full-time “trial ready” attorney would relieve the constraint, and possible save the office from having to offer pleas or drop cases when they normally would not, he said.

“It’s too big a load,” said Larkin. “The District Attorney is trying to address this before something bad happens.”

According to Larkin, there are currently 95 open cases awaiting trial in county court. Eighty of those are felonies, including six homicide cases.

In total, he said the office handles around 100 indictments a year.

“I know this is coming at you fast,” Larkin said. “But Joe feels he has a responsibility – this is a serious situation that needs help.”

Under McBride’s proposal, the new prosecutor would be hired immediately at a salary of $70,000 annually, but wouldn’t replace the part-time assistants, whose salaries combined are $60k, until the end of the year. In addition, two part-time secretaries would also be eliminated in favor of creating one full-time position. The re-structuring would increase the DA’s budget by roughly $25,000.

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