SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A prosecutor shortage is pushing Salt Lake County Council to make some drastic decisions. ABC4 first reported on the 26 vacant prosecutor positions in the District Attorney’s office last week. The office is also in jeopardy of losing nearly a dozen more lawyers due to market standards.
The vacancies potentially delaying current court cases. This comes at a time where crime is on the rise across the state.
Council members pushing back are asking why now?
“We would like to see comparisons on both salary, benefits, and even if possible caseloads,” says Council Member David Alvord.
District Attorney Sim Gill says there is a shortage of lawyers across the country. Many cherry-picked before graduation day.
“If you’re coming out of law school, the top firms here in Salt Lake are paying, I think $165,000 to people coming in,” says DA Gill. “What we are really reacting to are market forces that has an acute labor shortage across the country.”
In a stunning bipartisan 5-2 vote, the county council approved additional funding for the office.
The price tag, much smaller than the $332,000 the District Attorney’s Office was asking for last week. Tuesday’s bipartisan vote approved $165,000 for a prosecutor pay bump, which is a difference of $167,000.
“It will certainly keep us from not losing attorneys and hopefully encourage those attorneys who are here to say they are valued for the work that they do, and the hard work we are doing,” says DA Gill.
Many in the county say the investment in prosectors helps the criminal justice system overall.
“From everything from police officers to people working at the county jail with the sheriff, to prosecutors, and court operations because we are all part of that same public safety net,” the District Attorney says.
But this is a financial fight that will continue with next year’s county budget decisions where the information Council Member Alvord asks for will need to be supplied.
DA Gill adds, “So come November, which is there, we are going to have this hard conversation about what is market and where we are in response to that.”