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District Attorney’s Office adds four new attorneys, combatting low staffing levels

Deborah Gonzalez
Deborah Gonzalez

The District Attorney’s office has been plagued by low staffing levels for several years—but that may be changing. In a recent newsletter, District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez announced that four assistant district attorneys, or ADAs, had joined the team, in addition to two ADAs that had been hired in April.

At a county budget hearing in mid-May, Gonzalez said that six new attorneys, presumably those announced in the newsletter, had completed training, bringing staffing levels up significantly.

“That now brings us back to the point where we were when I first walked in with five vacancies.”

Gonzalez added, however, that a recent government pay study had decided uncompetitive salaries. She suggested her office would need more funding to hire attorneys specializing in complex cases.

“When we had that market study, we still felt that did not address all the issues in terms of compensation for the very specialized types of prosecutors that we need. We are still faced with being uncompetitive for high end, very sophisticated, complex-type of prosecution of things like gangs and SVU.”

Gonzalez’s demands follow years of complaints about a lack of competitive wages for prosecutors. Last year, Gonzalez told the Commission that only eight out of seventeen ADA positions were filled.

"We've been losing ADAs to nearby circuits because of funding," Gonzalez said. "They can go 30 minutes down the road and get from $20,000 to $30,000 more. We start our starting salary for our lawyers at least $10,000 less than the next circuit over."

Last year, DA Gonzalez unsuccessfully pushed for the creation of a gang-prosecution task force. This year, she abandoned that project, asking instead for about $150,000 to fund four support positions. The mayor’s proposed budget, which totals $3 million for the DA’s office, does not include this increase.

Gonzalez’s newsletter also said that another ADA will be joining the team in June.

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