The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office has announced the hiring of 21 assistant district attorneys.
“It is with great pride that I welcome the newest 21 Assistant District Attorneys to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office,” District Attorney Raymond Tierney said in a news release about the additions to the team.
“These individuals are highly qualified and are committed to seeking justice and serving the residents of Suffolk County. I have no doubt that they will uphold the values of this Office and of this profession dutifully,” he added.
Amid a talent shortage, the hiring comes at a time when the Suffolk DA’s office has made global headlines with the development in the Gilgo Beach murders case, and the arrest of Rex Heuermann.
The alleged serial killer was charged in July with multiple counts of first- and second-degree murder of Melissa Barthelemy, 24, Amber Lynn Costello, 22, and Megan Waterman, 27. He is also suspected in the murder of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25. Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The DA’s office is part of the task force that was instrumental to the suspect’s recent arrest. The task force includes the Suffolk County Police Department, FBI and state police and the sheriff’s office. Among the task force is “our pit bull district attorney Ray Tierney,” Suffolk Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison told Newsday.
Whether that cache is drawing new applicants to the DA’s office is not yet known.
“It is too soon to draw conclusions, however we believe the excellent work product of the office is one of many factors drawing law school students towards Suffolk,” Shannon Wilson, a spokesperson for the DA’s office, said in an email to LIBN.
“The office participates in a number of internship, externship, and clinic programs with regional law schools, which is a significant component of our recruitment program,” Wilson said. “Some programs even reach back into undergraduate levels.”
These efforts come at a time when experts say there is a smaller pool of talent applying for ADA positions.
“The pool of applicants has dwindled,” Wilson said.
“This is because of several factors, including the general decline of law school enrollment, the rising expense of law school (which redirects law graduates towards the more profitable, private sector job market), a generational decrease of interest in law enforcement careers, the inability of a prosecutor’s office to compete with legal careers that are structurally able to offer remote work, and the rising need for prosecutors (due to criminal justice reforms) which causes intense regional competition for a decreasing number of qualified candidates,” Wilson said.
The newly hired ADAs undergo what the DA’s office describes as a “rigorous months-long training program,” which was developed and implemented by Tierney. This comprises extensive on-the-job-training, including legal training lectures and workshops, mentoring, and second-seating more senior assistants in court.
The ADAs also receive off-site training from the National District Attorneys Association’s National Advocacy Center and the New York State District Attorneys Association’s Prosecutor’s Training Institute.
In their first year, the ADAs will rotate between the District Court Bureau, where they will learn to handle misdemeanor cases at First District Court; the Intake and Discovery Compliance Bureau, where they will learn to assess the sufficiency of court documents; and the East End Bureau, where they will handle misdemeanor and felony cases in the local courts of the five townships and six villages that make up the east end of Suffolk County.
The newest ADA hires hail from Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, Touro University Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, Seton Hall University School of Law, Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University,
Albany Law School and City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law.