The Bedford County District Attorney’s Office is dealing with more turmoil.
District Attorney Lesley Childers-Potts confirms she is now the lone prosecutor on staff, with the two assistant district attorney positions now vacant.
Last week, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office agreed to take on cases to help them out, less than 20% of the cases on their docket according to Childers-Potts.
“I am unwilling to allow my staffing difficulties to impact cases being handled appropriately and professionally, I am retaining as many cases as I can without sacrificing the quality of how cases are handled.”
District attorneys can refer cases to the AG’s Office if they do not have the resources to handle them, and a spokesperson told me it is standard practice.
But the move has once again raised concerns from President Judge Travis Livengood, who said he only learned about the situation after the AG’s office took the case.
He has previously chastised the office when they did have ADA’s on staff.
That’s because three cases involving crimes against children ended without a verdict due to errors by prosecutors, in the span of a few months. In two of the cases, the accused individual cannot be retried, due to “double jeopardy” rules, which means they are walking free.
One of them, Livengood said, had evidence of intentional misconduct after an ADA asked a question that led to a mistrial, which Livengood said in court filings that any competent prosecutor would know those questions would cause a mistrial. He added that the explanations the DA’s office gave were “absolutely nonsensical — and inconsistent,” and, at worst, were an attempt to hide a more nefarious intentional reason for causing the mistrial.
Childers-Potts said the problem she and other DA’s find is that an ADA position is often seen as a stepping stone for a young attorneys, on their way to a higher-paying position. She says county commissioners have modified the office’s budget to help make starting salaries for attorneys a little better.
The first assistant district attorney’s salary was listed in the 2022 budget at $68,000, which, according to a report from the association of prosecuting attorneys, is right at the average salary for an entry-level state prosecutor. For comparison, starting salaries for associates at large law firms are $215,000.
“I am confident that I can fill those positions,”