Fighting sanctions, county attorney cites 'crushing' caseloads, fed-up prosecutors and backlog of 1,000 cases

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Hillsborough, New Hampshire, County Attorney John Coughlin told a judge Tuesday that prosecutors are overwhelmed with “crushing” caseloads of 150 cases per piece and a backlog of 1,000 cases in the Manchester, New Hampshire, office.

Coughlin described the problems as he appeared in court in Manchester to fight possible sanctions by Judge Will Delker, report the New Hampshire Union Leader and WMUR.

Delker has said the prosecution office missed deadlines and ignored court orders as the result of an administrative breakdown. Sanctions could include fines or office supervision by the New Hampshire attorney general.

Coughlin said several prosecutors left shortly after he took office in January, at a time when four prosecutor positions were already vacant. That meant that 1,000 cases had to be transferred.

“The reason that was given for many of these attorneys leaving was the stress at the county attorney’s office,” Coughlin said. “They gave two causes: One was the crushing caseload, and the other respectfully was the treatment by the court that caused them to leave and seek opportunities elsewhere.”

Coughlin said only one assistant county position is currently vacant, and he hopes to hire additional prosecutors with American Rescue Plan money.

Coughlin also said prosecutors could use Microsoft 365 to streamline calendars, but the software that was available in July won’t be installed by information technology personnel until c.

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