McMahon: more prosecutors needed for rise in felonies, reviewing video evidence

A steady rise in felony cases and increasing time demands to review video evidence has prompted Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon to call for more lawyers to prosecute cases.

"If I had eight more assistants, they would be busy on the first day with a full caseload, just in the criminal division," McMahon said this week during his monthly media briefing. "There's give and take in the budget process. No one of us get everything that we want, but there's a significant need for additional resources in not just my office, but I know in the Public Defender's Office, Probation (Department). We spend a lot of time and resources on alternative prosecution, such as our diversion programs."

Felony case filings have increased for four years in a row, after bottoming out at 2,111 in 2015. Last year, prosecutors authorized 2,604 felony cases, an overall increase of 23% from 2015.

"We're struggling with that. That's a staffing issue. We'll work with the county board to try to address that going forward," McMahon said, noting his office employs 59 prosecutors, but they are spread out among the felony, civil, juvenile, child support and DUI/traffic divisions.

Brenda Willett, acting Kane County Public Defender, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

McMahon said the advent of video evidence from police squad cars, police body cameras and more recently, home security systems such as Ring and Nest doorbells, has increased the time demands on prosecutors to review evidence. A decade ago, video might come from a squad car, but now it comes from a variety of sources and must be thoroughly reviewed.

"Over the last decade, the way that we do our work has changed drastically. Video has been a game changer for law enforcement," he said. "The time it takes to review, process and analyze that evidence is significant. This is still a human system. I can't just buy technology to evaluate cases."

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