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20 new county DA's will begin work in January


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Starting in January, 20 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties will have new chief prosecutors who will try to punish lawbreakers.

And the state Justice Department is working to get those new district attorneys up to speed.

Assistant Attorney General Roy Korte says his agency provides on-going training for prosecutors, and special sessions for new DA’s that began right after last month’s elections.

Voters placed 20 new DA’s into office. Korte says the large number is rare – but it’s a sign of the times in the legal industry.

He said many prosecutors left to make more money in private practice – and as a result, it’s hard to keep good, experienced attorneys who are willing to work on the people’s behalf.

A UW-Madison study in 2011 showed that most of the 146 prosecutors surveyed planned to leave their jobs at any time, after being stuck with entry-level salaries for years.

Lawmakers tried but failed earlier this year to create 17 pay grades designed to give regular raises to prosecutors, who are state employees even though they work in county courthouses.

One of those lawmakers is about join the ranks of the DA’s. Stevens Point Democrat Lou Molepske Jr. was elected as the new chief prosecutor in Portage County.