ONEIDA COUNTY (WUTR-TV) — There has been a lot of discussion over the impact of criminal justice reform in the state, since it took effect at the first of the year. One of the unexpected side effects has been felt in district attorney offices across the state.
Two dozen assistant district attorneys in Brooklyn have quit over the changes in the state discovery procedure, part of the reform. Prosecutors say it adds more to the workload.
The new state discovery reform requires prosecutors to turn over all evidence to defense within 15 days of when the defendant was arraigned.
Oneida County District Attorney, Scott McNamara, says he has one assistant DA who is thinking about leaving the legal industry.
“I can’t get anymore people to do this job — I am trying to get more now because we’re sinking,” says McNamara. “My ADAs are spending more time typing up list of property and not interviewing witnesses and not trying to determine how strong their case is, they’re trying to investigate the case to make sure that the case is a good case.”
There’s 22 assistant district attorney positions in Oneida County, but not all the positions are filled.
“We’re actually doing it with 19 right now. The last two people I hired are in law school. I am hiring people while they’re still in law school so I can give them jobs and they’ll know they will have a position once they finish grad school but that ties up those positions for me but I have to find people who I think would be good for the office and it’s hard to keep people,” says McNamara.
Scott McNamara reached out to the Oneida County Executive, Anthony Picenete, to see if there’s funds to open new positions in the District Attorney’s office. McNamara says that would be a tremendous help — it take off some of the stress and workload for his assistant DAs.
“We have to start changing the way we do business instead of hiring more lawyers I need to hire more support staff, I need to hire paralegals people who can help do the discovery so my assistants can stand in the courtroom and over people can turn it over,” says McNamara.