Prosecutor’s office lays out staffing needs

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published February 23, 2021

 Earlier this month, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office presented to the Board of Commissioners on why its staffing level should increase. For assistant prosecuting attorney’s, it’s suggested that six more APAs should be hired. Seen here is Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido.

Earlier this month, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office presented to the Board of Commissioners on why its staffing level should increase. For assistant prosecuting attorney’s, it’s suggested that six more APAs should be hired. Seen here is Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido.

File photo by Deb Jacques

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MOUNT CLEMENS — Skip Maccarone paints a less than favorable picture of the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office.

At the Feb. 11 Macomb County Board of Commissioners records and public safety committee meeting, Maccarone, the chief assistant prosecutor, provided an office overview.

That was followed up by a funding presentation for the prosecutor’s office.

The presentation was to receive and file, meaning the board wasn’t voting to approve or deny funding.

During his comments, Maccarone called the office “mismanaged,” noted that the ship is not floating well and that employees are working under terrible conditions.

A presentation slide for the meeting indicated that, upon Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido taking office in January, interviews with office’s divisions chiefs and assistant prosecuting attorney’s, or APAs, confirmed that a “long-term decline in staffing” is a crisis that was predictable long before the pandemic began.

It states that, in coming months, a backlog of nearly a year of jury trials, bench trials and other proceedings in the circuit, district and juvenile courts will involve a “literal tsunami” of discovery materials to be reviewed and provided.

“This is a corrupt office and you had an ongoing criminal enterprise that was happening inside the office,” Lucido told C & G Newspapers Feb. 18. “The budget was never looked at. It was willful neglect of duty on the part of the prosecutor to properly staff the office. If you’re getting a new prosecutor that wants to clean up corruption, shouldn’t you give him the proper tools to do the work?”  

Commissioner Harold Haugh, who represents District 11, which includes Fraser and Roseville, said in the county’s 2021 budget — which was approved in November — over 100 positions were left unfilled.

“When you say a minimal ask of $900,000, that’s not the way we looked at the budget going into this year,” he said.   

For APA hiring needs, 58 are currently employed, which Maccarone said leaves the office falling short of servicing the 25 judges of the circuit, probate and district courts.

“APAs are assigned in shockingly low numbers to 14 primary support services,” the presentation noted. “Many of the circuit court judges have only one APA — not the two that should be in place.”

It’s suggested that six more APAs be hired.

Lucido noted that police organizations in the county, and its population, have grown exponentially.  

“The office has compliance with federal and state law of how many prosecutor’s and support staff are necessary to do the job they are charged with,” he said. “We’ve lost prosecutors over the years.”

Lucido added that every law enforcement office in the county supports what the Prosecutor’s Office is requesting.

“It’s not an extravagant ask,” Lucido said. “It’s enough to get through. We have a backlog like no other.”

Another option is adding a part-time deputy chief assistant – a split function that has been approved to allow a chief assistant and deputy chief assistant to fill roles exclusive to their office.

Maccarone said that one vacant unfunded part-time APA position would be to complement the full-time position and to accommodate the need for second chairs in the circuit courts and staffing during vacation and other absences, having two part-time APAs is the most logical approach.

Macomb County Circuit Court Chief of Trials Jeanie Cloud, who served as the interim county prosecutor last year after Eric Smith resigned, said when she began working for the county over 20 years ago, every circuit court judge had two APAs.  

“When one is in trial, sometimes there’s a stack of files that have to be worked on while the trial is going on,” she said. “Who is going to be doing that when your main chair is sitting in trial?”

The office is also looking to add a communications director with a salary of $92,257; a court liaison position not to exceed $70,196; IT director for $131,435; IT business systems analyst for $98,480; and executive assistant to the prosecuting attorney for $98,480.

Regarding IT, Maccarone said the county has a wonderful department, but the problem is that it’s pulled in many directions, and the prosecutor’s office needs a permanent employee in that role.

In summary, the presentation notes that in addressing years of neglect and lack of planning, if not lack of interest, it is imperative that Lucido recapture the $500,000 reduction in this year’s budget and that he is allowed additional funds to do the job he was elected to do.

Concluding his remarks, Maccarone said “we’re in a lot of trouble” and that the office is running risks in the way it operates every day.

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