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Marquette County crime: Prosecutor weighs in on local caseload

MARQUETTE — Despite the coronavirus pandemic, or perhaps in part because of it, crime is up this year in Marquette County in comparison to years past.

Marquette County Prosecutor Matt Wiese told the Marquette County Board of Commissioners that his office is projected to have over 800 felony case filings in 2020. That’s over 100 more cases than were handled in 2019 and nearly a 100% increase since 2015-2016.

“Nearly 46% of our 2020 felony cases involve methamphetamine — either a 10-year possession, or a 20-year delivery/manufacture of methamphetamine,” Wiese said in an email.

The cases, in addition to the other matters the prosecutor’s office handles, keeps the office busy, Wiese said.

“Each day my office handles many felony, misdemeanor, juvenile and child neglect and abuse cases,” he said. “Every felony case requires that a probable cause conference and preliminary examination be scheduled within 21 days, and all other cases have pretrial conferences that also need to be staffed.”

In addition, he said nearly 40% of the cases his office prosecutes involve crime victims who need to be consulted in order to ensure that their “voice in the criminal justice process is heard and represented.”

Although it is difficult to determine a daily average for cases, he said as of Sept. 14, his office had reviewed 1,890 criminal complaints, authorized 579 felony and 721 misdemeanor cases, and had 1,366 court events scheduled as well as four jury trials and one bench trial. All this, he said, over the course of 190 work days.

“These cases are covered by myself and 4.5 assistant prosecutors, and our clerical support staff of four people receive, review, organize, schedule and manage all of these files,” Wiese noted.

Wiese also has a victim/witness coordinator on staff who is responsible for making sure that crime victims are notified of all proceedings and that the prosecutors handling those cases are made aware of concerns victims may have.

The prosecutor’s office has been making use of modern technology such as the Zoom teleconferencing platform whenever possible to ensure social distancing guidelines are being maintained, he said.

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