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Minnehaha County Sees Spike In Criminal Cases

August 25, 2009, 9:04 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Minnehaha County Sees Spike In Criminal Cases
The Minnehaha County State's Attorney's Office has already handled more than six thousand adult criminal cases this year. That's an eight percent increase over last year and it has the Minnehaha County State's Attorney asking for help. 

Aaron McGowan says his office has already seen so many cases this year that the 21 attorneys that work in the office have handled an average of 400 files a piece. McGowan says he's trying to cut back his budget during a tight financial year, but the increase is forcing him to ask county commissioners for an extra attorney in the 2010 budget.

"There's an incredible amount of time management and prioritizing. I'm in a lot of weekends and its not unusual for me to see attorneys here late at night or on the weekends," Minnehaha County State's Attorney Aaron McGowan said.

The Minnehaha County State's Attorney's Office handled 150 cases Tuesday alone and have another 200 on the docket for Wednesday.

"We do everything we can to stay above water and do justice on every case, but with the kind of volume we deal with on a regular basis it becomes very difficult," McGowan said.

That's why McGowan plans to ask the county commission to add another attorney to his staff in the 2010 budget, and help lighten the legal load.

"We have and will continue to ask for more help. It's prudent for us to have an adequate number of prosecutors to be able to handle that kind of volume and seek justice and keep the community safe," McGowan said.

Because McGowan says as Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County grows so does the amount of crime and the amount of work his office is asked to do.

"We're on the verge of being a big city and having big city problems. It's the intent or our office to be more proactive than reactive when it comes to some of these big city problems," McGowan said.

McGowan says in addition to the growing community, the recession can also lead to more domestic violence, robberies, and property crimes and add to the increasing caseload.

The county commission is scheduled to hold hearings for the 2010 budget in September.

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