By Carol Stiffler
Ten years after he became Luce County Prosecuting Attorney, Josh Freed is moving on. Freed will soon work as a referee for the Luce County Friend of the Court, a position he’ll start in November.
Before he leaves the prosecutor’s office, Freed is striving to increase the salary for Luce County’s next prosecutor. Without a significant increase in pay, he fears the county will have a difficult time attracting any candidates for prosecutor.
He submitted a letter to the Luce County Board of Commissioners, which met last week and listened to a presentation by 11th Circuit Court Judge Brian Rahilly.
“I urge you to increase the salary of the prosecuting attorney in Luce County,” Freed wrote. “When I began in 2013, my salary was approximately $50,000. With the current salary, the pay increased an average of 2% each year. Since 2013, I have been in a repayment program where I am required to pay 15% of my salary for my law school loans. In those years, I paid approximately $4 on the principal of the loan. 15% of my salary didn’t cover the interest on my law school loan and the balance went up despite my payments.”
Freed said he took on work as a court-appointed lawyer ad litem, working mostly in Schoolcraft County, to supplement his income. With a two-percent raise each year, his position currently pays about $60,000 per year.
On the western end of the U.P., Dickinson County is looking for an Assistant Prosecutor and has had no qualified applicants despite the position’s $85,000 annual pay rate.
“Why would someone fill out an application for the same job that pays $60,000?” he asked in his letter.
At the Luce County Commissioner meeting, Judge Rahilly told the commission that the job has been advertised since July, and received no applicants.
Houghton County is in a similar situation, Rahilly said, despite offering $110,000 for the position. Rahilly said that indicates the problem isn’t just the salary.
“I’m not advocating for anything,” Rahilly said. “I’m just informing the board that as of November 1, there’s going to be no one here prosecuting crimes.”
Michigan’s Attorney General office will prosecute some major crimes, Rahilly told the commission, but not the day-to-day cases. The office also won’t hold trials. Those defendants may be released on bond, or have their cases dismissed if there is no prosecutor to oversee them.