The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

May 11, 2014

County officials hire assistant DA

By Sandy Scarmack
Herald Staff Writer

MERCER COUNTY — County commissioners, by a split decision, hired an assistant district attorney that is “desperately” needed, according to District Attorney Bob Kochems.

By a 2-1 vote, the board hired Stephanie Lauderbaugh, of Hermitage, who has a private practice as a criminal lawyer. Lauderbaugh, who starts Monday, will leave private practice, according to Kochems, because the demands of the district attorney’s office are too great to manage both positions.

Kochems said his office has lost two assistant district attorneys in the last six months, while dealing with a 20 percent increase in the number of cases moving up to the courthouse from the district magistrate level.

“That means more cases are heard here. The cases are more complicated, and the clients need to discuss their options with their lawyer, who then has to be here in the courthouse,” he said.

The hiring was necessary, according to Kochems, from a “logistical” perspective.

Commissioner Brian Beader voted against the hiring, because he said it had “no funding source” attached to it. “That is no reflection on the district attorney, who I think does a great job. It’s just that the funding isn’t there for this position,” Beader said.

Commissioners John Lechner and Matt McConnell approved the hiring.

Lauderbaugh will be paid $49,052 a year.

In other employment decisions, the board:

• Hired two typists and two caseworkers in the Children and Youth department.

• Hired four part-time election machine custodians in the Elections department.

• Approved transfers within the Domestic Relations department, as well as within the 911 center.

• Accepted the separation from employment of two caseworkers in the Children and Youth department, a part-time and a full-time corrections officer at the jail, a law clerk in Judge Daniel Wallace’s court, and a part-time administrative position in the Sheriff’s department.