The followings was sent to Classic City News by Jenna Vaisvil, Director of External Relations for the Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office
"I saw the article released yesterday from Classic City News, titled ‘Western Circuit DA’s Office limping along with decimated staff of prosecutors’ and I wanted to touch base with you and correct several inaccuracies in the article.
"Though budgeted for 17 assistant district attorneys, the DA's office that is responsible for prosecuting criminal cases in Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties reportedly is currently down to operating with as few as three prosecutors.”
This is incorrect information, the DA’s Office has never fallen to three prosecutors. We currently have five prosecutors and three Assistant District Attorney Apprentices.
“In an apparent move to shore up the staffing shortage, Gonzalez recently brought aboard five unpaid apprentice prosecutors, but all of them reportedly failed the bar exam.”
This is nearly entirely false. Our office has three Assistant District Attorney Apprentices, all of whom are currently studying for the bar exam and will be taking it in the coming months. All three of these Assistant District Attorney Apprentices are paid positions. It is a common practice in District Attorney Offices to hire recent graduates who are pending bar results to begin training them to be excellent prosecutors, you will find this is not a practice unique to our circuit. These apprentice ADA positions were created with ARPA funds for the Case Analysis and Pretrial Evaluation (CAPE) Unit, which is tasked with addressing the case backlog created from the pandemic court shut down. This unit does not practice in front of the judges.
The DAs office does currently have a class of interns, ranging from undergraduate students to masters students to law students, these internships are unpaid. This is not a new practice in the Western Judicial Circuit DAs Office, nor is it unique to our circuit.
“Two veteran ADAs resigned over the past week.”- Two resignations did take place in the last two weeks (these prosecutors are not included in the staffing numbers provided above.) Neither of these resignations were from veteran ADAs, both had under two years of prosecution experience.
I know that accurate and honest reporting is important to you as well as a key part of the Classic City News brand, and that you will agree that having accurate information relayed to your readers is essential."