The battle over budget cuts in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office is now being taken up in the courts.
Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s chief of staff, Donn Fresard, took the stand Thursday at a hearing over a request for legal action by Worthy to stop the cuts.
Fresard said the budget cuts imposed by Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano has the office down by dozens of necessary lawyers.
“We’re unable to keep up with warrants,” he told the court.
Twenty-two attorneys and three investigators lost their jobs earlier this month because Worthy said she doesn't have the money in her budget from Wayne County to continuing paying them. That leaves the prosecutor's office with about 160 attorneys, 52 fewer than Worthy said are needed.
Worthy said Ficano allocated her department $26 million, instead of the $34 million she had been expecting.
--Wayne County Kym Worthy
Ficano’s attorney accused Worthy of a pulling a publicity stunt for not sending assistant prosecutors for cases involving traffic tickets and domestic violence.
In an interview with Local 4, Ficano said dwindling property taxes have cut county revenues by $100 million since 2009. Ficano's office has said the county can't afford to fund the prosecutor's office at previous levels.
“It’s like a family, everybody’s in this together,” Ficano said. “What you want is us to be able to move forward and you have to stay within the budget.”
Worthy’s attorney accuses Ficano of being vindictive, taking out revenge on Worthy because she refused to support a millage proposal.
Circuit Court Judge Wendy Baxter warned both sides that their public comments are hampering a possible compromise.
“I’m seriously considering issuing a gag order,” she said.
The hearing continues next week.