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In Missouri courts, criminal justice depends on an impartial judiciary, public defenders who effectively represent their clients and prosecuting attorneys with the skills and resources to advocate the state's interest. The balance of the system is like that of a three-legged stool. If any one of those three legs is weakened, the stool wobbles or falls.
Missouri prosecutors face a number of challenges related to funding. Although the salary of full-time prosecuting attorneys is the same as that of an associate judge, assistant prosecutors can start their careers making less than $40,000 per year. Finding and keeping talented, skilled attorneys who can earn far more in private practice can be difficult. Complicating the matter is that most young attorneys are burdened by law school debt, averaging about $80,000. Assistant prosecutors may have to take second jobs in order to make ends meet.
By law, full-time prosecutors aren't allowed to work in private practice. And in those counties with part-time prosecutors, salaries can be low while the hours can be long.;
Because prosecutors are paid by the county, they must negotiate for their budgets each year. Although they may estimate the resources they need, one complex and unforeseen case can play havoc on their budget.
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Paid for by The Missouri Bar Sebrina Barrett, Executive Director PO Box 119 Jefferson City, MO 65102