Remember the pleas for more manpower in the Marinette County district attorney’s office that went on for a couple of years? The pleas to the county board came from the District Attorney’s office and victims of crime after the case backlog topped the 400 mark.

The county board, with funding from the state, finally answered the call. According to District Attorney DeShea Morrow in a recent appearance before the county board’s Public Service Committee, the backlog has declined to about the 350 range. In the meantime, crime continues in Marinette County and the DA’s office keeps plugging along in the stacks of old files.

Morrow said the most notable outcome in her office during 2018 was the hiring of a second full-time assistant DA because of funding from the Wisconsin Legislature. The funding allowed the DA to hire Tessa Button, a graduate of Marquette University Law School, as a full-time assistant DA for a position that previously was part time. Morrow hired Cody Marschall in 2017 to fill the full-time assistant position that was held by Morrow when she was named district attorney.

Morrow noted felony cases jumped from 233 in 2017 to 255 in 2018, and misdemeanors went from 99 to 115. One of the reasons for the leap in felonies is due to drunk driving offenses. A fourth drunk driving offense is now a felony in Wisconsin.

The DA told the committee the biggest jump in caseloads in her office was in juvenile delinquency cases with 51 compared to 32 the previous year. Furthermore, the number of Child in Need of Protection Services shot from 32 to 45. A lot of time is necessary when her office is dealing with juveniles due to transportation and other details.

Morrow’s office is involved with the Drug Court and Mental Health Court, something previous district attorney’s didn’t have years ago.

Law enforcement officers and the DA’s office are dealing with social and domestic issues that weren’t on the charts years ago. Crime in general has skyrocketed across the country and it has impacted large counties and small counties. The number of officers and staff personnel in police departments and sheriff’s departments have increased over the years due to the increase in crime. Drug investigations alone, coupled with drunk driving arrests, have been on the rise. The stress on judges and their staffs is also troubling. 

Victims of crime have beef, too. They want answers and they want action and they don’t want to hear about case backlog.

We’re pleased to see the steps being taken in the district attorney’s office to correct the nagging problems that have lingered in recent years. Local and state funding is necessary to keep momentum going.