Fremont County and Prosecuting Attorney Michael Bennett. File photo.
(Lander, Wyo.) – Fremont County and Prosecuting Attorney Michael Bennett told the Fremont County Commission on Tuesday afternoon that his office has stayed within its budget at this halfway point in Fiscal Year 2014.
He said he is at 46 percent of his budget so far, which he said is “right on track.”
One item, expert witness fees, are at 219 percent of the budgeted amount right now. Several high profile trials at the start of the fiscal year have caused his department to spend more than $10,000 on witness fees. Originally, he had budgeted $5,000.
“I don’t anticipate any major costly trials prior to the end of the fiscal year,” Bennett said of from now looking forward.
The commission raised some questions about how those costs could be minimized in the future, either through requiring a convicted defendant to pay the costs or to have experts teleconference in to trials. Bennett said it is rare for defense teams to allow the prosecution witnesses who do not come into the courtroom physically during trial. He also said in some cases there would be no way for a convicted defendant to pay the costs because they’ll be spending such significant amounts of the rest of their lives in jail.
Bennett also informed the commission that he would like to take one currently unfilled part-time position and make it full-time in Fiscal Year 2015. The position’s main role would be scanning documents into the county’s cloud file system for both the Riverton and Lander offices. He said right now the role as part time would not attract the candidates he needs.
He also said he could use another attorney in Riverton, but he will not be asking the commission to fund one. “The numbers over there could probably warrant another attorney,” Bennett said, adding that his staff is able to keep up with the work right now.