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Association of Prosecuting Attorneys

Indiana: Is Prosecutor Pay a Matter of Public Safety?

July 18, 2012
County Commissioners will decide today whether 29 deputy prosecuting attorneys in St. Joseph County will get raises in the middle of a budget year. So, why should you care? Some believe this issue is about more than money. St. Joseph County Prosecutor Mike Dvorak says this is a public safety issue.  The brutal death of Tramelle Sturgis is a case that will be hard to forget. The 10-year-old was beaten to death by his father, Terry Sturgis. The elder Sturgis was ultimately found guilty of all 14 counts against him -- but attorney's on both sides fought a battle in the court room. Prosecutor Dvorak says the Sturgis case is just one of many high profile cases that highlight the need for skilled prosecutors. "We have had some very difficult cases tried by very competent and well-skilled prosecutors, and I am in jeopardy of losing those, and that is a jeopardy to the public safety of our community if that occurs," said Dvorak. He says in the last 5 months, the prosecutor's office has lost 5 deputy prosecutors. 4 of them left for higher paying, public sector, government jobs like city attorney positions, prosecutors in other counties, and state agencies. Dvorak says this is a blow to public safety. Dvorak says the problem is the salaries in the St. Joseph County Prosecutor's office are not competitive enough.