District Attorney Kamala Harris said Wednesday that her office is struggling to keep up with the high number of misdemeanor cases — such as illegal gun possession, graffiti and prostitution — as she pleaded for money to hire more prosecutors.
Harris came before the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee to discuss her office’s proposed $40.7 million budget for fiscal year 2007-08 and spoke of the needto hire a total of five misdemeanor attorneys, despite a recommendation by Budget Analyst Harvey Rose not to approve two of the attorney positions.
“Not only merchants and neighborhood organizations and neighbors complain and are concerned about the incidents of these crimes going without a response,” Harris said. “The police officers on the street are concerned about whether we are appropriately prosecuting cases at the volume they are occurring and are citing the offenders.”
She said her office has nine attorneys handling misdemeanor cases, and each one has a daily caseload of 333 cases.
The misdemeanor cases include prostitution, crime, graffiti, driving under the influence, illegal gun possession and quality-of-life crimes.
The committee agreed to allow Harris to hire four additional misdemeanor attorneys, rather than the five she asked for. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said he “reluctantly” supported the decision, saying he’d rather “give her a few more” misdemeanor attorneys.
“When I am out in the district, I hear a great deal about why aren’t these smaller cases prosecuted, and I always have to say, ‘Well the Police Department does their thing, but the district attorney can only do so much,’” Elsbernd said. “I would really like to stop giving the district attorney that excuse.”
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