Marinette County District Attorney quits over caseload

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MARINETTE COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Nearly all of the 71 district attorney's offices in Wisconsin are swamped with a backlog of cases, and now the Marinette County District Attorney is calling it quits after his case backlog surpassed 400.

The Attorney General's office says that statewide case backlog could mean victims wait years to see justice.

Marinette County prosecutors fight to keep up with their increasing number of drug-related felony cases, and the new District Attorney will have to make time to prosecute a backlog of 400-some cases, left behind by resigning District Attorney Allen Brey.

Brey declined our request for interview, but he recently told the Marinette Eagle Herald newspaper, "Morally, I cannot continue to work in a system that treats crime victims so poorly. My parents didn't raise me this way.”

Brey blames the problems on "a lack of resources."

As much as Marinette County struggles, other district attorneys we spoke with say keeping up with the caseload makes for a workweek that far surpasses 40 hours. Some are even worse off than Marinette.

"Our office struggles with many of the same issues (Brey) discussed, but on a much larger scale. I would be in no position to advise him on methods for eliminating backlog," wrote Brown County Dave Lasee.

"Marinette County is not unique," said a spokesman from the state Department of Justice. "There is no question that if Wisconsin does not address the severe understaffing soon, innocent crime victims will suffer."

But according to State Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette), some help is on the way.

"The Joint Finance Committee recently approved an additional part-time position requested by the Marinette County DA, “said Nygren. “It is my hope that this addition will significantly help with the caseload in the future."

We reached out to Marinette County to ask if an additional part-time DA would solve a 400-case backlog. Our requests were denied.

Brey's last day is June 4. Governor Walker is in the process of interviewing candidates to fill that position.

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