DES MOINES — Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird is hiring three new attorneys for the Statewide Prosecutions Section in the Iowa Department of Justice.
“Back in 1997, there were 11 prosecutors who could travel around Iowa and do cases in every corner of Iowa. When I took office in January, they were down to seven,” Bird says. “Sexual assault cases are up about 101% (and) homicides are up about 70% since then, so there’s clearly an even greater need than there was before.”
According to a job posting on the Attorney General’s website, the salary range for the new prosecutors is between $120,000 – $135,000 and they will assist county attorneys in the prosecution of felony-level crimes, like murder.
The legislature provided Bird’s office with extra money for these positions, as well as others. “A victim witness coordinator, also someone who can help as an investigator to help put together those cases,” Bird says.
The government reorganization plan lawmakers approved this spring included language saying Bird may intervene in criminal prosecutions, even if a local county attorney does not request assistance. The Iowa County Attorneys Association objected, saying county attorneys are elected officials who answer to their constituents and they should retain prosecutorial discretion. A representative from Bird’s office told lawmakers it was important for the legislature to weigh in, so Bird’s authority would be clear.
“The attorney general has had statewide criminal jurisdiction since the 1860s and they further clarified that to make that clear, but as far as how we’re working with county attorneys, that hasn’t changed,” Bird says. “We have county attorneys here in this state who doing a great job and we work with them on different cases that come up in their county.”
Bird, who’s been attorney general for nearly six months, says she has not intervened in any county-level prosecutions. Bird, a Republican, defeated Tom Miller last November. Miller, a Democrat, had served as Iowa’s attorney general for 40 years.