New attorney added for Southeast criminal cases
The Alaska Department of Law has added a lawyer to the Juneau office after receiving complaints from Petersburg about short staffing in the district attorney’s office.
A budget analyst position has been changed in order to make room for another attorney. This change will take the number of state attorneys in Juneau from three to four to handle cases.
During a visit by Governor Sean Parnell in early June, complaints about short staffing in the D.A.’s office, a high dismissal rate for court cases and lack of communication with local police were mentioned.
“My understanding is we will have more manpower available for Petersburg once the reclassification is complete,” Parnell said. “I think that is the short term solution, I think longer term there will be some other budgetary items that will need to be taken care of, both for Petersburg and other Southeast offices.”
According to Deputy Attorney General Richard Svobodny, this increase will aid Petersburg and the rest of Southeast in holding violators of criminal law responsible for their conduct.
“Four attorneys is still less than the number of public defenders but it will increase the ability to respond to different courts by 25 percent,” Svobodny stated.
He also said the state will figure out how to pay for the position that is not in the budget.
“Criminal cases in Southeast will continue to be judged individually and on their own merits,” he stated. “Those are fundamental principles of both the Alaska and U.S. Constitution, those things are not going to change and hopefully it will increase the amount of time that lawyers can spend on each case.”
The Juneau District Attorney’s office is responsible for prosecuting cases in Juneau, Petersburg, Haines, Yakutat and other smaller communities in the northern half of Southeast.