2009-10-09

WDAA Resolution No. 09-01 - Opposition to Furloughs for Prosecutors

WDAA Resolution No. 09-01
Opposition to Furloughs for Prosecutors

Whereas, the Wisconsin Legislature codified certain rights to victims and witnesses of crime with the prosecutor under an obligation to honor and protect theses rights. See generally Wis. Stat. 950.01 (2007-08).

Whereas, in addition to their obligations to victims and witnesses, prosecutors play a unique role in our system of government in responding promptly, at all hours, to time sensitive inquiries and needs of police officers, sheriffs' deputies, judges and court commissioners, front-line social workers assisting victims of crime, and defense attorneys.

Whereas, a prosecutor, as an attorney, has an ethical responsibility to proceed on a case only when the attorney has thoroughly prepared the case, which is not possible when an attorney handles too many cases at the same time. See SCR 20:1.1.

Whereas, the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) found that the State of Wisconsin failed to provide the number of prosecutors required under the weighted caseload formula and failed to add positions when a new law increased the demands placed upon prosecutors. LAB Report 07-9, available at http://www.legis.wisconsin.gov/lab/reports/07-9Full.pdf.

Whereas, the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) forwarded the request for increasing the number of prosecutors to correspond with the need documented under the audit reports. See District Attorney Budget Paper, available at http://www.legis.state.wi.us/lfb/2009-11Budget/Agency%20Request/da.pdf.

Whereas, the recently enacted biennial budget failed to provide adequate funding to ensure that the State of Wisconsin would have the necessary number of prosecutors to handle criminal caseloads in counties throughout the state.

Whereas, the request by the Wisconsin Governor to furlough state employees, including prosecutors, would further undermine the ability for a prosecutor to comply with his or her ethical obligations to victims, witnesses, accused persons, and the ends of justice. See Executive Order # 285, avail-able at http://www.wisgov.state.wi.us/journal_media_detail.asp?locid=19&prid=4355.

Whereas, the professional responsibilities of prosecutors are directly related to the incidence of criminal activity and law enforcement response to that activity, and not the biennial budget; therefore, the furlough days proposed in the executive order will reduce prosecutors incomes, but neither the value nor the quantity of the services they render.

Therefore, be it resolved that the Wisconsin District Attorneys Association (WDAA) does hereby oppose furloughs for prosecutors. Be it further resolved that the President of the WDAA be directed to disseminate this resolution to the Wisconsin Governor and members of the State Legislature.

Passed by the WDAA Board in June 2009.

Ralph Uttke, WDAA President

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