Growing GJ: DA's Office Running out of Room

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As Mesa County grows, so does the pile of cases on the district attorney's desk. Pete Hautzinger says his office is running out of room for employees and storage, and if the county doesn't keep up with growth, it could mean mistakes in prosecution.

The phone is ringing more and more everyday in the district attorney's office, and Administrative Assistant Kimberly Hess knows all too well.

"In the short time I've been here, just the volume has increased so much, Excuse me i have to get this call," Hess said to 11 News on Tuesday.

The sign–in sheet is full and the boxes and boxes of arrest affidavits, motions and paperwork from cases lines every wall of open space.

District Attorney Pete Hautzinger says it's not hard to see it all piling up.

"Every office is occupied and every cubicle is full," said Hautzinger.

He says felony and traffic cases are up, keeping his attorneys working overtime.

"Fortunately we're not going to hire anyone else for a while, but growth is inevitable. It will be a quandry, we'll have to cross that bridge when we get there."

Hautzinger says Mesa County has added two judge in the last two years and eventually he says his offices on the second floor will be replaced with more courtrooms.

"Sometime in the next five to ten years we'll have to move offices and have our own built somewhere else."

But for now the challenge is keeping up with all of the work.

"When felony deputies are handling hundreds of cases there are going to be more mistakes," Hautzinger told 11 News on Tuesday.

And although Hautzinger says they are keeping up, he says they are walking a very fine line.

"We're treading water and although it's not a crisis yet, we just have to keep an eye on it."

And Kimberly Hess has her own challenge--trying to open every piece of mail, keep the lines open and the cases flowing.

The district attorney says his office is trying to open up more space by scanning documents in the case folders.

He says he has been in communication with the county about the growing case load.

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