More cuts at prosecutors office - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

More cuts at prosecutors office

By Chuck Weber email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX)-Putting criminals behind bars is about to get even harder. Monday newly elected Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe dismissed 23 employees-- eight lawyers prosecuting cases and 15 support staffers. The new job losses add to previous cuts over the past two years.

"Obviously you know it's a difficult economy," explained spokesman Mike Edmondson. "This office is prepared to operate efficiently, and do so in a time when crime is going up and the budget and support for this office is going down."

Edmondson says a winning prosecutor customarily reorganizes their office. Even in good budget times people lose jobs. Edmondson says Monday's cuts reflect both reorganization and trying to stay ahead of expected funding cuts from the state legislature.

Before cutting in the state's justice began two years ago, Palm Beach County had 119 prosecutors. At the start of the day Monday, the number was 105. The new reduction of eight more lawyers brings the total to just 97.

Those positions may not remain open, Edmondson clarified. He said McAuliffe would decide the fate of those jobs based on his on-going evaluation of the office and just how deeply the state legislature actually cuts funding to prosecutors offices. Budge reductions are expected during both the current special session of the legislature and the regular session in March and April.

Edmondson said right now a prosecutor's average caseload is 400 cases. That number is sure to climb.

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