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If times were flush, nearly 200 young lawyers would have been new to their jobs this fall, now busily working as prosecutors on behalf of the people of New York City. Instead, only 80 lawyers — mostly fresh out of law school — have begun careers as assistant district attorneys. The hopes and dreams of the unsuccessful were dashed with glum explanations that typically began, “Due to budgetary restrictions … “ Frustration has been greatest in Brooklyn, where Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes recently told all 52 members of what would have been the 2002 class of freshman assistant prosecutors that positions proffered last summer were suddenly inoperative — jobs with starting dates he had already postponed from last September until early next year. “Due to the fiscal crisis in New York City,” said Hynes in his letter rescinding job offers, “we have been ordered to freeze our staff.” While Brooklyn is a special case in cost-cutting — the district attorney’s office ran over budget for five consecutive years — chief prosecutors in the city’s four other boroughs have also reduced their hiring of new lawyers. No office, however, is discouraging r�sum�s. In Manhattan, District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau maintained a steady rate of new hires in 1999 and 2000, adding 54 and 53 new assistants, respectively. Last year, Morgenthau even managed an employment uptick with 58 new hires. This year’s class of freshman assistants, however, dropped to 42. Barbara Thompson, spokeswoman for Morgenthau’s office, said the boss had “awareness of the budget situation.” The situation is likewise in Queens and the Bronx. “We had 11 new hires this September, the smallest class since District Attorney [Richard A.] Brown became D.A. in 1991,” said Patrick Clark, spokesman for the prosecutor. “Ordinarily, we would have had 25 to 30 new assistants.” This year’s September class of assistants to Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson was more than halved, from an average of 55 new hires over the past three years to 25 this year. “It was because of budgetary constraints, absolutely,” said Steven R. Reed, spokesman for Johnson’s office. The Staten Island office’s hiring practices do not parallel those in the city’s other district attorney offices because it is the smallest, with about one-tenth of the Manhattan district attorney’s 545 prosecutors. “We have new hires as needed,” said Monica Brown, spokesperson for Richmond County District Attorney William Murphy. “Not classes as such.” Three assistants were hired in August 2001, she said, and two were hired this year — in January and August.

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