OLATHE, Kan. — The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted 6-1 Thursday to approve additional funding to hire more staff within the District Attorney’s Office. 

The county will now allocate $530,000 from the General Fund to hire three lawyers, a trial assistant and a victims advocate.  

The number of active criminal cases within Johnson County increased dramatically since the onset of the pandemic. In 2019, the number of active cases was approximately 3,526. In 2022, the number of active cases jumped to 5,515.

“Over the last three years we’ve lost about 18 months of work time because of the pandemic. That didn’t mean we totally shut down, but we lost a lot of very meaningful hearings because of the ability to actually go to trial,” District Attorney Steve Howe said. 

According to county documents, average caseloads per prosecutor is between 165 to 240 cases. Before the pandemic, average caseloads ranged between 90 and 100 cases. 

“Our support staff, our paralegals who support those individuals and our victim assistance unit, that actually supports the victims, they’re running double what they normally have. That’s 450 cases per person,” Howe said. 

In December, three new judges will join the 10th District Court. One of those judges will be assigned to handle criminal cases. That additional criminal court will increase the number of cases the District Attorney’s Office handles each day.

“One of those persons she appointed is a criminal defense attorney that handles court appointments. We are going to lose one of the key contributors to the defense bar, because he’s going on the bench,” Howe said.  

Howe estimates the new court will increase the District Attorney’s caseload by roughly 150 cases a week.