County to hire another attorney; Additional judge to be in Mower 2 days a week starting in July

Published 10:24 am Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mower County will soon have another attorney.

The Mower County Board of Commissioners approved hiring another assistant attorney during its public meeting Tuesday to keep up with the county’s caseload.

The Mower County Attorney’s office has long been understaffed over the past few years and County Attorney Kristen Nelsen was set to ask for another attorney later in 2015. Yet the state’s Third Judicial District will add another judge to Mower County District Court for two days a week starting in July. In addition, the county’s court schedules will shift to focus more on criminal cases.

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“There’s a 2.9 judge need in Mower County right now,” Nelsen said. “That’s why Court Admin is moving another judge over.”

The county attorney’s office only has a staff of five attorneys, but the county consistently deals with a higher number of cases than average.

According to the Department of Public Safety, Mower County had 160 felony sentences in 2014. That’s completed case files and not just felony convictions, according to Nelsen.

Counties with at least 160 felony convictions usually have about eight or nine attorneys, but Mower has had a staff of five for years due to budget restrictions. The only comparable county in terms of demographics, Polk County, has a staff of six.

The new attorney will be hired this summer and will start in July.