ST. CLOUD -- Stearns County saw a large increase in the number of criminal trials in 2014 and the trend is continuing so far this year . The jump has brought with it more work and an increased need for staff help to prepare for the trials.

County commissioners this week, approved adding a case coordinator to the Attorney's Office. County Attorney Janelle Kendall says case coordinators help facilitate all that goes into trying a case.  The case coordinator works with the prosecuting lawyer to help work with witnesses, prepare evidence and perform other behind-the-scenes work.

The hiring will bring the number of case coordinators to four in Stearns County.

Kendall says they used to average about 30 trials per year, but saw that number increase to 44 in 2014 and already have had 18 trials in the first quarter of this year.

The hiring will be cost-neutral because a longtime attorney recently retired. Kendall says they have hired a lawyer to replace the outgoing prosecutor and the cost savings from that hire will pay for the new case coordinator.

Kendall says as the upward trend of more criminal trials continues they'll be evaluating staffing levels to accommodate that increase.  She says public safety is their number one priority.

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