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County attorneys work for cities, too, but say extra jobs benefit the public

County attorneys work for cities, too, but say extra jobs benefit the public

By Suzanne Dean

Publisher

 

MANTI—The Sanpete County attorney and deputy county attorney are now also serving as city prosecutors in eight of the 13 municipalities in the county.

That benefits the citizens of the county because it makes law enforcement more seamless, says Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels.

It also benefits the two attorneys, who get retainers ranging from $400 to $2,200 per month for various levels of legal work for local cities.

 

Kevin Daniels

Daniels serves as city prosecutor for Mt. Pleasant, Manti, Centerfield, Wales and Mayfield.

Wes Mangum, deputy county attorney, is the city prosecutor for Fountain Green, Moroni and Spring City.

According to the County Auditor’s Office, Daniels, who has been with the county since 2013, makes $105,336 per year. Mangum, who has been with the County Attorney’s Office since March 2018, makes $65,000.

Sanpete County attorney salaries have historically been at the lower end of the scale in Utah. For example, the Sevier County attorney makes $115,898, and the Sevier deputy county attorney $79,373.

The Sanpete Messenger was not able to get the amounts of retainers for all towns contracting with the two county attorneys.

But the paper learned that Centerfield City pays Daniels $2,200 per month, Mt. Pleasant pays him $1,100 per month, and Manti pays $900 per month.

His Centerfield retainer includes handling civil matters and drafting ordinances. In the other cities, he is the criminal prosector only.

Mangum is getting $800 per month from Moroni and $400 per month from Spring City for serving as prosecutor.

It’s “pretty common practice” for county attorneys in rural counties to also work for cities, Daniels says. “It allows us to supplement our incomes without asking for raises” and helps make it possible for the attorneys to stay in the county despite much higher compensation available elsewhere, he says.

            The public benefits, the attorneys say, by having prosecutors who are familiar with repeat offenders and familiar with resources for helping them.

Wes Mangum

The majority of criminal cases that come up in cities involve domestic violence, theft or drugs, Mangum says. When appropriate, “we can get them into an RSAT program (the residential substance abuse treatment program in the jail) or get them to the counseling center where they can get help.”

Another important benefit of the same prosecutors covering district and municipal courts is that the prosecutors are in a position to spot cases where charges can be and should be “enhanced,” Daniels says.

Several weeks ago, Mt. Pleasant police arrested a man named Kevin Rafferty for allegedly stealing merchandise from Horseshoe Mountain Hardware.

When the case reached Daniels, who is both county attorney and Mt. Pleasant City prosecutor, he immediately recognized Rafferty as the same person who had just pleaded guilty to multiple thefts in 6th District Court, a state court.

The law says that if a person has a certain number of theft convictions, and then gets another charge, the new charge can be bumped up one or two levels.

Ordinarily, the Horseshoe Mountain case would have been a Class B misdemeanor. But because of Rafferty’s history, Daniels charged him with a third-degree felony. That actually took the case out of Mt. Pleasant Justice Court and into 6th District Court.

Finally, the county attorneys say they have closer working relationships with local police departments than out-of-area attorneys. In some towns, local police have asked their city councils to hire the city attorneys.

That’s what happened in Moroni recently. For years, the town had contracted with Cowdell and Woolley, a Salt Lake County law firm that specializes in providing prosecutors to cities.

But Steve Grey, Moroni police chief, told the council he and his officers need to confer with an attorney on almost a daily basis, such as when they’re drawing up search warrants or arrest warrants that need to be presented to a judge. There have been instances when Cowdell and Woolley attorneys have not been as readily available as he would have liked, Gray said.

“I’m local,” Mangum assured the Moroni City Council. “You can call me day or night.” The city council cancelled its contract with Cowdell and Woolley, and hired Mangum.

As an elected official, Daniels is not required to put in a specified number of hours per week, although he says he puts in an average of 45-50 hours. He also does not get paid vacation.

However, he says he makes sure his city prosecutor duties do not interfere with his main job. He says he does reading and research for municipal cases early in the morning before work time.

He does take time once a month to travel to Mt. Pleasant, spend one to two hours in court before driving back to Manti. He says he can often cover the Manti City Justice Court on his lunch hour.

Centerfield, Wales and Mayfield, the other towns Daniels serves, do not have their own justice courts. They use the Sanpete County Justice Court, which is in the county courthouse down the hall from the County Attorney’s Office.

Daniels says Centerfield has cases every month or two. In five years, Mayfield and Wales have only generated a handful of cases.

Mangum is a regular county employee who gets paid vacation. He says Fountain Green, Moroni and Spring City, the three cities he serves, hold their courts back to back, all on the same day each month. He take vacation time when working for the cities.

“Work for the cities is work for the same constituency (as working for Sanpete County),” Daniels says.

Mangum adds, “We’re invested in the county; it’s not just for the money.”

“All of the cities so far have been happy,” Daniels says. Cities have the option of  contracting with out-of-area attorneys. But he said, “I think we’ve been able to deliver a better level of service.”

Mangum is a regular county employee who gets paid vacation. He says Fountain Green, Moroni and Spring City, the three cities he serves, hold their courts back to back, all on the same day each month. He take vacation time when working for the cities.

“Work for the cities is work for the same constituency (as working for Sanpete County),” Daniels says.

Mangum adds, “We’re invested in the county; it’s not just for the money.”

“All of the cities so far have been happy,” Daniels says. Cities have the option of  contracting with out-of-area attorneys. But he said, “I think we’ve been able to deliver a better level of service.”