Depending on whom you ask, the state’s Committee for Public Counsel Services is an organization trying to uphold a constitutional right or a bloated state agency that functions as a “broken system.”
The state’s district attorneys gathered at the State House Thursday and called for the legislature to reallocate funds to help prosecutors fight crime. They said the $168 million CPCS budget for the public defenders agency is “enriching thousands of private attorneys” who take cases that the staff attorneys outsource.
“Some private lawyers make over $200,000 a year,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley. “Nobody in the district attorney’s offices makes that.”
The state’s district attorneys are the top earners in their departments and make about $148,000 annually, according to state payroll records.
Instead of flatly asking for more funding to their collective $92 million budget, the DAs asked that the prosecutors and public defenders funding be re-allocated based on caseload. Prosecutors said they handle about 300,000 cases annually compared to the just over 200,000 cases at CPCS and that their caseload is higher per prosecutor, putting them at a competitive disadvantage.
During an at-times-testy news conference, impassioned defense attorneys sitting in the front row accused the prosecutors of skewing the numbers, claiming that grant funding for prosecutors was not included in the total and that defense attorneys must hire expert witnesses while district attorneys have access to police and state forensic analysts.