The Teton County Prosecutor’s office needs another deputy attorney to respond to a growing criminal caseload, Prosecutor Erin Weisman told county commissioners on Tuesday.
The office has been operating with five deputy attorneys ever since Terry Rogers retired in the spring of 2017 and despite her best efforts to operate with that staff, Weisman said it’s time to hire another prosecutor.
Teton County Board of Commissioners Chair Natalia Macker asked if the new position could wait until the next fiscal year.
“I believe adding one now is really critical,” Weisman said. “I’ve found that [operating with a lean staff] is not in the best interest of my office or of the public in prosecuting cases.”
Felony cases have seen a steady increase since 2015, according to Weisman. Her ideal number of deputies is six, split between the criminal and civil divisions.
The criminal division has three attorneys assigned to it now — Clark Allan, Zane Aukee and Brian Hultman. Keith Gingery and John Graham are assigned to the civil division. Weisman floats around where she’s needed, she said.
“I want to keep my attorneys happy and plugged in as best I can, but it’s a very stressful job,” Weisman said.
Teton County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Clark Allan, who’s worked in the office for 21 years and handles the majority of felony criminal cases for the county, also pleaded with commissioners Tuesday morning.
“This last year has been by far the busiest year of my entire career,” Allan said. “In June and July we were on track to double our felony caseload.”
Allan said Weisman has set high standards for the office but that she is juggling her job as county attorney because she’s handling a large caseload.
“She is trying to be the county attorney and also carry a full deputy caseload,” he said. “Basically, we are at a work level right now that we just can’t sustain.”
Commissioners unanimously voted in favor of hiring a new county attorney.
The new prosecutor will be assigned to the criminal division to help with misdemeanors, felonies, juvenile actions, drug court and involuntary hospitalizations.
A deputy attorney makes between $100,000 and $140,000 annually, according to records.
The state reimburses or funds a portion of those salaries.
County Clerk Sherry Daigle suggested using some money from the county attorney’s contingency fund for the new attorney’s salary.
Weisman said she plans to advertise for the opening immediately and that she’s specifically seeking someone with jury trial experience.