State attorneys, PDs need money to reduce turnover Jan Pudlow Senior Editor A half dozen years ago, the legislature boosted the starting salaries of rookie prosecutors and public defenders to lure them in the door. Now it’s time for the second phase of trying to keep mid-level attorneys with three to six years experience, the group with the highest turnover rate.That was the message 19th Circuit State Attorney Bruce Colton, president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, delivered to the Senate Justice Appropriations Committee on January 26.Ditto for public defenders, says Eighth Circuit Public Defender Richard Parker, who made his case for additional staff, as well as increased pay, when he asked for $15 million for workload, an 8.3 percent increase over last year’s trial operating budget.“We can’t stop the turnover,” Parker said. Over an eight-year period, he said, the turnover rate has been nearly 22 percent. That means each year, about one in five attorneys quits the public defenders’ office. Experienced assistant public defenders, he said, are “only making $10,000 more than brand new lawyers coming through the door.”The minimum starting salary for assistant public defenders, Parker said, is $38,317. Yet the minimum starting salary for lawyers in the executive branch after two years is $50,616.The same turnover crisis is also happening on the other side of the courtroom.“We can’t keep experienced lawyers, and we have a problem sending people into court with very little experience on very important cases,” Colton said. “Every day, people apologize for leaving a job they love, because they can’t afford to pay student loans and raise a family.”The prosecutors are asking for $6.9 million.State attorneys are not trying to compete with law firm salaries, just other government agencies, Colton said. He gave the example of the lowest salary of an assistant county attorney in Miami-Dade County is more than 35 percent greater than the average salary of prosecutors in the 11th circuit.Every time the legislature funds a new judge, Colton said, the state attorneys need seven employees, including attorneys, support staff, and a victims’ advocate.In “virtually every case where someone goes to prison,” he said, there are 3.850 motions filed on ineffective assistance of counsel.“These are killing us,” Colton said. “There are four people handling just those motions in our office.”Speaking for the public defenders, Parker agreed: “You can add as many new judges as you want, but if you don’t add corresponding staff it won’t be efficient.”Even without new judges, he said, “We are still facing pressures.”The ineffective assistance of counsel motions are a “tremendous drain” on the public defenders, as well, he said, because they are defending some and prosecuting others.Committee Chair Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, said: “We recognize what your needs are. It’s more than hiring attorneys. It’s staff support.”This year, Crist said, he hopes to fund 66 new judgeships (64 trial and two appellate), 55 Supreme Court certified last year, plus 11 new ones the court has requested.“Whatever we do, we will do in a balanced holistic approach so all parties are equally stroked and no one is penalized,” Crist said. February 15, 2006 Regular News State attorneys, PDs need money to reduce turnover
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Target store on Black Friday (Photo: Target)Target revealed Friday that the number of people affected by a massive data breach during last year’s holiday shopping season is nearly double the original estimate, and that additional personal information other than credit or debit card accounts have been stolen.The big box retailer, one of the largest in the country, said its ongoing forensic investigation discovered that hackers stole personal information for up to 70 million individuals in a scheme that was broader than originally indicated.Intruders were able to obtain customers’ names, mailing addresses, phone numbers or email addresses, along with credit/debit card information, which was already revealed by Target last month.The retailer noted in a message on its website that “this is not a new breach,” but was uncovered during its investigation, which also includes law enforcement authorities.Much of the data is partial in nature, Target said, adding that the company will attempt to contact customers impacted by the breach of its internal payment systems. The correspondence from Target will include tips to guard against consumer scams.Target Chairman and CEO Gregg Steinhafel acknowledged that the breach is “frustrating” for customers.“We are truly sorry they are enduring this,” Steinhafel said. “I also want our guests to know that understanding and sharing the facts related to this incident is important to me and the entire Target team.”New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office is involved in a national investigation into the breach, called the updated number of 70 million victims “deeply troubling.”“Consumers in New York and around the country expect and deserve companies that protect their personal information when they shop on their websites and in their stores,” he said in a statement.Affected shoppers have no liability and Target will offer one year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to everyone who shopped in its U.S. stores, the company said. Customers have three months to enroll in the program.The breach occurred during the busiest time of the year for retailers. Hackers accessed Target’s systems between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. The company made shoppers aware only after news of the hack leaked on the web.Long Island is home to 14 Target stores, four in Nassau County—Hicksville, Levittwon, Valley Stream, Westbury—and 10 in Suffolk—Bay Shore, Central Islip, two in Commack, Copiague, Farmingdale, Huntington Station, Medford, Riverhead, South Setauket.Target said it will provide another update next week.
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