The County Board of Supervisors is taking on the budget and included is a series of charts of comparative data on the staffing for the Yolo County Public Defender’s Office and the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, as well as county comparisons that once again show the disproportionate impact of DA charging decisions.
The first table provides an overall staffing analysis provided by the public defender to the county but “excludes District Attorney staffing in the Consumer Fraud/Environmental Protection and Child Abduction units, as these programs do not have an impact on the Public Defender’s workload.”
Staff writes, “Based on the data reflected in Comparison 1, the Public Defender’s Office has 0.7 support staff for each attorney, while the District Attorney’s Office has 2.1. However, this data includes staffing for programs that the District Attorney’s Office believes have little to no impact on the Public Defender, including Neighborhood Court, Multi-Disciplinary Interview Center, Victim Services, Intake/Charging and IT units.”
This table excludes that staff and also “extra help” positions from both departments.
Based on this data, the public defender’s office has 0.6 support staff for each attorney, while the district attorney’s office has 1.4.
The big difference here is that, while the attorney breakdown is more even and public defenders only cover 60 to 80 percent of the caseload, the investigators are hugely disproportionate with 22 for the DA’s office versus just 5 for the public defender’s office, while clerical and other support are also heavily tilted toward the DA’s office.
The workload in Yolo County is markedly better than in other locations for attorneys, but where the prosecution has a huge advantage is on the investigations side.
The stats also show that Yolo County is charging and trying more cases per capita than elsewhere.
According to the Judicial Council’s 2016 Court Statistics Report, “in 2014-15 Yolo County conducted more felony and misdemeanor jury trials per capita than every other county in the state.”
Staff notes, “Preparing for and litigating jury trials is by far the most time consuming and labor intensive aspect of the work of a deputy public defender. Parity in resources, including support staff, between the prosecution and defense is necessary so that workloads are manageable and defendants are getting effective representation in court.”
Yolo County conducted more trials than each of the seven counties historically benchmarked against, in Yolo County salary comparison studies.
We have seen this year more effort put into pre-trial settlement of cases and we shall see where that ends up pushing Yolo County’s workload. It also bears repeating that when the AB 109 stats came out, Yolo County was found to be middle of the pack in crime rate, but at the top in per-capita trials and fourth in the state in per-capita incarceration rate.
The Vanguard has attributed that to charging policies by the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office.
—David M. Greenwald reporting
Come see the Vanguard Event – “In Search of Gideon” – which highlights some of the key work performed by the Yolo County Public Defender’s Office…