I am the district attorney in Coos County, and have known Josh Marquis since we were both young men working in the Lane County district attorney's office. He is an outstanding prosecutor and a zealous advocate for public safety.

Being a prosecutor is a very tough job, and the position is often misunderstood and underappreciated. Simply put, in addition to many other important duties, the district attorney enforces our laws through the prosecution of crimes.

The state of Oregon does not pay a fair salary to district attorneys, relying on counties, who have a critical interest in seeing that their communities are safe, to make up the difference ("Marquis pay cut: 'It's spitting in my face,'" The Daily Astorian, May 15). Apparently Clatsop County officials don't care whether their community is safe or not.

You need to look at the "morale of the troops." Why would anyone want to be a career prosecutor in Clatsop County when the elected district attorney is treated so shabbily? If your county doesn't attract and retain competent prosecutors who are passionate about their work, your entire justice system will inevitably suffer.

The district attorney is the people's advocate in the most important cases to come before your courts. Are the people not entitled to the best lawyers possible? The old adage that "you get what you pay for" couldn't be truer. I suspect that Marquis could double his income overnight by going into private practice. Fortunately, he prefers the sometimes thankless duty of keeping his people safe.

Doubtless Marquis will continue to do a great job regardless of the knife in the back, but it is shameful that your county's budget committee people, who are supposed to represent the best interests of the public, either do not understand or do not care about the critical importance of the function he performs.

PAUL BURGETT

district attorney, Coos County

Coquille

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