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Prosecutor Blasts County for Paying Outside Lawyers
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Joe DetersHamilton County, Ohio Prosecuting Attorney Joe Deters is blasting commissioners for paying $12 million to private lawyers for work he says could have been done by his office.

The county administration has recommended a $241 million budget for 2009, a decrease of $30 million that could result in laying off hundreds of the 5,900 county employees. The initial budget presented by administrators called for Deters’ office to cut 12 jobs.

Deters says commsioners hired outside lawyers to work on legal issues surrounding sewers, the Cincinnati Bengals NFL and Reds MLB stadiums, and work on The Banks, the residential and commercial neighborhood to be built between the two stadiums.

  
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He says commissioners have paid the Cincinnati law firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease more than $12 million since 2004 for that legal work, estimating it resulted in those private attorneys being paid an annual salary of $154,000. The average annual salary for assistant prosecutors in Deters’ office is less than $66,000.

Deters noted that his office’s annual budget for 2009 is $14 million, $1 million less than last year. That pays for 123 attorneys and about 40 other support staff.

He worries the cuts will prevent his office from performing the duties Ohio law requires: prosecuting criminal cases, and serving as civil attorneys for the Hamilton County government.

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He’s upset that while commissioners are asking his and other offices to cut costs and workers, the administration continues to pay millions for outside legal services.

Ohio law mandates that if governments seek to hire outside lawyers at a cost that exceeds the elected prosecutor’s annual salary, the elected prosecutor must agree. Deters insists he will withdraw that permission until the issues he raised are addressed.



Via Cincinnati.com.



 

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