Exodus of Prosecutors in Franklin County Raises Concern Over Impact on Court System, Criminal Cases


Over one-third of prosecutors in Franklin County have left their jobs since new leadership was elected in 2020, according to a new article from The Columbus Dispatch. In what it calls a “Brain Drain,” the article discusses how the large number of departing prosecutors is impacting the way justice is administered in Franklin County.

According to the Dispatch, it remains unclear whether the exodus of attorneys at the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office is the result of a new Democratic prosecutor, Gary Tyack, replacing long-standing Republican County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, evidence of larger problems with new leadership, or a perfect storm of new management, pandemic conditions, and high rates of churn across the labor market.

Regardless, industry insiders say the number of departing prosecutors is far from typical. Since 2020, the article reports, 38 of the roughly 110 have left the prosecutor’s office. There are currently 121 prosecutors and seven open positions under the new leadership.

The turnover created by departing prosecutors and hiring of new attorneys, who must be trained, is already having an impact on the local court system. In addition to placing strain on an already busy prosecutor’s office, it’s also resulting in delays caused by the difficulty of adequately staffing complicated cases. Some defense attorneys have reported that they’ve had several criminal cases interrupted by prosecutors leaving the office. As Attorney Brad Koffel notes, the speed bumps faced new administration were expected given the difficulties it faced following the previous team:

“Ron O’Brien ran the Franklin County Prosecutors Office like a machine. I cannot imagine how difficult it is for the new crew to take over after Ron was surprisingly defeated in 2020.”

Many interviewed by the Dispatch have voiced similar statements that the exodus is less about politics and more about concerns over management and prosecutors’ ability to serve crime victims and the public. Since becoming County Prosecutor, Tyack has operated the office much like prosecutors in large U.S. cities by largely staying out of the courtroom and assuming an administrative role (in contrast to his predecessor). In cases involving high-profile criminal matters, this means Assistant Prosecutor Jane Grubb, who was one of Tyack’s first appointees, often serves as the face of the prosecutor’s office.

Criminal Defense Attorney Brad Koffel has represented defendants in Franklin County and the state of Ohio for 30 years. As he notes:

“We have one of the busiest privately retained practices in Ohio and our cases in Franklin County are taking much longer to resolve than at any time in my career. However, I have known Janet Grubb, the First Assistant, for 30 years. We just need to give the new team some time.”

According to Grubb, many senior staffers have stuck around and will continue to serve as the backbone of the office. Coupled with recent trends that show higher rates of staffing shake-ups, the office is taking a positive position that this will help the team right its ship.

Read the full article from The Columbus Dispatch here.